Prosecutors demanded an 18-month sentenceMonday for a popular South Korean blogger who is accused of spreadingfalse financial information in a case that has ignited a debate aboutfreedom of speech in cyberspace.
The 30-year-old blogger, a fierce critic of government economic policy,was arrested and indicted in January after he wrote that the governmenthad banned major financial institutions and trade businesses frombuying U.S. dollars.
Prosecutorshave said the posting was not only inaccurate, but it had affected theforeign exchange market and undermined the nation's credibility.
Butopposition parties and critics have claimed the arrest is aimed atsilencing criticism of the government and restricts online freedom ofspeech.
Seoul District Court spokesman Kwon Tae-young saidprosecutors demanded 18 months in prison for the blogger, identified asPark Dae-sung, and the court is scheduled to deliver a verdict on April20.
The charge carries up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won ($38,000).
Theblogger, known by his pen name "Minerva" after the Greek goddess ofwisdom, had rocketed to fame after some of his predictions, includingthe collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, proved to becorrect.