SEOUL: South Korea’s spy agency yesterday detained a leftist lawmaker accused of plotting an armed revolt in support of North Korea after parliament voted to approve his arrest.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) took United Progressive Party (UPP) legislator Lee Seok-Ki away from his office in parliament after a confrontation with his supporters.
Scuffles erupted as UPP members blocked dozens of NIS agents at the office door.
Police eventually stepped in to end the noisy stand-off which lasted for nearly one hour. Television showed Lee surrendering and walking out.
“I came here of my own will to avoid clashes,” Lee told reporters after he was taken to a court at Suwon just south of Seoul.
He will be held at the court, which had issued a warrant for his detention, pending his formal arrest by state prosecutors.
Rival political parties earlier joined forces to approve Lee’s arrest on sedition charges. Without such a vote, lawmakers cannot be detained while the legislature is in session.
Some 258 legislators voted for the arrest while 14 objected.
Hundreds of police, including riot officers carrying shields, had stood guard outside the National Assembly as the vote was under way, with riot vans blocking roads and a water cannon atop an armoured vehicle.
About 200 UPP members had staged a sit-down protest outside the assembly building.
Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn told lawmakers that in May Lee — believing war with the North to be imminent — told his secretive leftist group to prepare for attacks on South Korea’s communication lines and railways.