South Korean leftist MP formally arrested on charges of plotting revolt

South Korea's United Progressive Party legislator Lee Seok Ki (centre) shouts as security agents escort him into a van to a prison, at a police station in Suwon, south of Seoul on Thursday, Sept 5, 2013. A South Korean leftist lawmaker was forma
South Korea's United Progressive Party legislator Lee Seok Ki (centre) shouts as security agents escort him into a van to a prison, at a police station in Suwon, south of Seoul on Thursday, Sept 5, 2013. A South Korean leftist lawmaker was formally arrested on Thursday on charges of plotting an armed revolt in support of North Korea. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - A South Korean leftist lawmaker was formally arrested on Thursday on charges of plotting an armed revolt in support of North Korea.

The move came a day after Parliament voted to approve the arrest of United Progressive Party (UPP) legislator Lee Seok Ki, and he was taken into temporary detention.

On Thursday he was formally arrested by prosecutors.

Television showed Lee shouting "Sedition charges were fabricated!" as security agents escorted him to a van, surrounded by a crowd of journalists.

He was detained at a prison in Suwon just south of Seoul.

National Intelligence Service agents had taken Lee away from his office in Parliament late on Wednesday after rival political parties joined forces to vote in favour of his arrest.

Justice Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn said on Wednesday that Lee in May - believing war with the North to be imminent - told his secretive leftist group to prepare for attacks on South Korea's communication lines and railways.

The spy agency last week had arrested three of Lee's supporters on charges of seeking to instigate an armed insurrection in support of North Korea.

Sedition charges have been extremely rare since South Korea introduced democracy in the late 1980s.

Lee has insisted he is the victim of a "savage and irrational witchhunt" led by the country's secret service.

His party has accused the spy agency of trying to divert attention from an election-rigging scandal.

The scandal has seen the arrest of former National Intelligence Service head Won Sei Hoon for allegedly ordering agents to run an online smear campaign against Democratic Party presidential candidate Moon Jae In.

Mr Moon was narrowly beaten in the December poll by the ruling party candidate Park Geun Hye.

In 2002 Lee was arrested and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for working with an underground political party in the 1990s. He received a presidential pardon later the same year.