A group of people supporting former South Korean President Park Geun-hye hold banners that read 'Down with Hong Joon-pyo who schemes to split the conservative forces,' as Hong, leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, visits the southeastern city of Daegu, South Korea, 10 November 2017, to mark the centennial of the late former President Park Chung-hee's birth. Hong's visit to Daegu, a traditional stronghold for conservatives, came after the party took a step to expel the corruption-tainted former president, the eldest daughter of the late president. EPA-EFE/YONHAP

SEOUL: A Seoul court handed down a one and a half year prison term to a close aide of ousted former President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday for leaking presidential documents to a friend of Park accused of tampering with state affairs and extorting money from conglomerates, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Jeong Ho-seong, one of the three longest-serving aides to Park, was indicted in November last year for providing, at Park’s instruction, at least 47 confidential documents such as yet-unannounced presidential speeches, to Choi Soon-sil, the central figure in the massive corruption scandal that led to Park’s ousting.

On Wednesday, the Seoul Central District Court found Jeong guilty of leaking 14 documents in collusion with the former president. The court did not acknowledge the alleged leaking of the 33 other documents, saying that there was not enough evidence.

Jeong has admitted to handing presidential documents over to Choi, but argued that he did not believe it was against the law for Park to seek opinions from an acquaintance. Park has claimed she gave presidential documents to Choi to ask what she thought about them.

Jeong and two others – Lee Jae-man and Ahn Bong-geun – were considered so close to Park that they were dubbed in the media a “doorknob trio,” a figure of speech implying they were holding the knob of the door to Park and that everything must pass through them to reach her.-- Bernama

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