Before leaving for the Middle East Sunday to deliver a lecture, former President Lee Myung-bak commented on the ongoing probes into alleged political meddling during his term.
"While watching the new administration's anti-corruption campaign over the last six months, I have started to question whether they are reforms or a form of political retribution. Our nation faces a diplomatic and security crisis right now. I believe that such an indiscriminate, unfair investigation into the military and intellegience organizations only undermines our security."
The National Intelligence Service and the military are under investigation for allegedly using operatives to post comments online supporting former President Lee Myung-bak and criticing the opposition camp in violation of rules about political neutrality.
While Lee criticized the probe, he did not answer questions about whether he ordered the cyberwarfare unit to spread pro-government propaganda during his term between 2008 and 2013.
His former presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan, who was accompanying Lee on four-day trip to Bahrain, came to his defense, saying that as president he would have been far too busy to get involved in such a scheme and that no government would give such an order.
The probe has been picking up speed.
On Saturday, former defense minister Kim Kwan-jin was arrested over his possible link to the cyber warfare command's online activities.
Kim reportedly told the prosecution that the order came directly from his boss at the time, President Lee.
These events have prompted petitions calling for a travel ban on the former leader, with over 75 thousand people signing online as of Sunday morning.
Following Lee's comments Sunday, liberal political parties in Korea issued statements criticizing him and called for a thorough investigation.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.