Japanese Correspondent Hauled Up for 'Defaming' Park

Tatsuya Kato /Newsis Tatsuya Kato /Newsis

The Seoul bureau chief of the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun appeared for questioning at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Monday over charges that he defamed President Park Geun-hye.

Prosecutors had already banned Tatsuya Kato from leaving Korea and extended the prohibition period, which was set to expire last week. They hope to reach a swift decision whether to indict him in order to avoid escalating diplomatic tensions.

In an Aug. 3 article in the online edition of the paper headlined, "Park Geun-hye disappeared the day passenger ferry sank; who was she seeing?", Kato noted that Park disappeared from the radar for seven hours on April 16, when the ferry Sewol sank killing about 250 passengers.

But a rightwing activist group accused Kato of defaming Park based on "groundless rumors."

The Japanese daily in a statement on Monday said it had no intention of defaming Park and expects Korean authorities to arrive at a "fair decision based on freedom of the press and freedom of expression."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 19, 2014 10:33 KST