Japanese Journalist Cleared of Defaming Park Geun-hye

      December 18, 2015 10:22

      The former Seoul bureau chief of the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun was found innocent on Thursday of defaming President Park Geun-hye.

      Tatsuya Kato talks to the press after being cleared of defaming President Park Geun-hye in Seoul on Thursday.

      Tatsuya Kato was indicted in August over a column that mentioned rumors that President Park Geun-hye spent seven hours with former aide Jeong Yun-hoe on April 16, when the ferry Sewol was sinking off the southwest coast, killing nearly 300 people.

      The indictment backfired and exposed Korea to global derision.

      The Seoul Central District Court accepted that the column was factually incorrect but said there was insufficient evidence that the journalist's intention was to defame Park.

      Rather, the court said Kato's intention was to describe the political situation in Korea to Japanese readers.

      "His column contained false information and allegations," the court said. "But that is not enough to establish intentional libel."

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