Ten South Korean nationals—five men and five women—were sentenced to one year in prison Wednesday for hacking into the digital infrastructure of the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry and attempting to set up a racket in Phnom Penh to extort money from people in their home country.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Chhe Virak found the 10 innocent on five charges brought against them after they were arrested in November at a Tuol Kok district residence that had been fitted with numerous Internet and telephone connections, but ruled that they were guilty of a sixth charge.
The 10 were sentenced to “one year in prison on the charge of participating in a group or conspiracy to commit an offense,” the judge announced.
At a hearing in July, Judge Virak focused on the fact that almost 20 telephones had been seized during the raid on the Koreans’ rented villa in Boeng Kak 1 commune.
Present for the verdict Wednesday was Heng Exc, director of inspections at the Posts and Telecommunication Ministry, who said the Koreans had hacked into a ministry database, but declined to comment further.
Y Sokkhy, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism department, said last night that his office had worked closely with the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry to investigate the South Koreans.
“These charges and sentences are related to hacking into the system of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication,” Lieutenant General Sokkhy said.
Lim Eng Ratanak, the lawyer for the 10 defendants, declined to comment.
Kim Hyung-won, a law enforcement liaison for the South Korean Embassy who was also present in court, said that his indicted countrymen had attempted to set up a “phishing” scam.
“They did it to gain money from Korean people, but they failed,” he said. As for hacking a government website, he said: “Of that, they are innocent.”
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