Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 11:09 UK

S Korea blogger found not guilty

By John Sudworth
BBC News, Seoul

Blogger
Minerva's indictment caused a storm of protest from human rights groups

A South Korean blogger accused of spreading false information on the internet has walked free from court.

Park Dae-sung, better known as Minerva, built up a huge online following by making largely negative - and accurate - predictions on the economy.

Prosecutors said his brand of financial journalism was damaging to the public interest - but a Seoul court ruled there was no proof of malicious intent.

The "innocent" verdict is being seen as a victory for freedom of speech.

Storm of protest

Taking the Roman goddess of wisdom's name as his nom-de-plume, Minerva served up some uncannily accurate online predictions, including the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

He became a blogging sensation, with intense speculation about his true identity - a learned professor perhaps, or maybe an experienced market trader?

The authorities were less impressed, arguing that much of what he wrote was misleading and beginning to affect the money markets.

When they finally tracked him down in January they found the unemployed 31-year-old picking up his financial know-how by surfing the web and reading mail-order text books.

His indictment under a rarely used law of "spreading false information with the intent of harming the public interest" caused a storm of protest from human rights groups, but he is now free to blog again.

The court found that however misleading his articles, there was no proof of malicious intent.



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