Ahn Jae Hyun’s Lawyer To Potentially Be Punished For Violation Of Law
On September 5, Lawyer Bang Jung Hyun said in his statement, “I am the lawyer who [helped] a whistleblower report the ‘Jung Joon Young chatroom case.’ I have seen all of the conversations in the chatroom at the time. Through this case, I looked at Jung Joon Young’s KakaoTalk once again, and there were no conversations shared between the two of them. I found that in a conversation with a third party in July 19, 2016, he said, “It’s been a year since I’ve seen Jae Hyun hyung.”
On September 16, news outlet Money Today reported that lawyer Bang Jung Hyun’s usage of Jung Joon Young’s chatroom data to refute claims of Ahn Jae Hyun’s friendship with Jung Joon Young can be a violation of the Attorney-at-Law Act.
A source from the Korean Bar Assocation said, “As an attorney, using one’s files from a past whistleblowing case for a separate divorce case can be a violation of the duty to maintain confidentiality.”
In March, lawyer Bang Jung Hyun had received Jung Joon Young’s chatroom data from an anonymous whistleblower and had handed over the raw data to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. The data was then transferred to the prosecution and is being used as evidence in court. Lawyer Bang Jung Hyun may have a made a copy of the data before it handing over.
A source from the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission stated, “The Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers does not have a clause about the punishment or disciplinary action that should be taken when a lawyer who reports a public interest whistleblowing case uses that data for another purpose. It is hard to make a judgement because there is no precedent of this.”
A source from the Seoul Bar Association, which lawyer Bang Jung Hyun belongs to, said, “Whether or not he will be disciplined can be considered after the petition is sent in.” When a local bar association receives a petition, the association looks over it and decides whether or not to report it to the Korean Bar Association, which has the authority to take disciplinary action. According to Money Today, a petition has already been sent in to the Seoul Bar Association.
A legal source stated, “From the start, the whistleblower sending data from Jung Joon Young’s phone to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission through lawyer Bang Jung Hyun is a violation of the Personal Information Protection Act, but [the whistleblower] was exempt from that legal responsibility for their protection. Article 14 of the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers states, ‘If public interest whistleblowing, etc. leads to the detection of a crime perpetrated by the public interest whistleblower, etc., the punishment of such person or persons may be mitigated or remitted.’ [This] clause is for the whistleblower, not the lawyer who reported on their behalf.”
Money Today states that lawyer Bang Jung Hyun’s actions could be a violation of not only the Attorney-at-Law Act, but also potentially the Personal Information Protection Act, in which case the violation is a criminal one.
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