August 19, 2014 10:33
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."
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