"The way that the president, who is a true public figure, makes an indictment (of the reporter) because she does not like an article about her, made me think about the meaning of a modern democratic society."
"It is difficult not to be concerned about this situation. It was also in the judge's words that South Korea is a democratic nation and that the freedom of the press should certainly be guaranteed. Anything that could hinder the development of this freedom of the press should never happen. I will keep this in mind and continue to focus on reporting in the future."
A Japanese reporter who was acquitted by a Seoul court on Thursday of defaming South Korea's president said his acquittal was an "obvious" result, and that he hopes prosecutors will not appeal.
Tatsuya Kato, Seoul bureau chief of Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper, made the comments in a news conference following the verdict at Seoul Central District Court.
Prosecutors indicted Kato last year over an article that referred to rumours that President Park Geun-hye was absent for seven hours during a ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly teenagers.
Kato said his story on Park's whereabouts during the ferry disaster served the public interest.
He told journalists at Thursday's news conference that the indictment had "made me think about the meaning of a modern democratic society."
Prosecutors, who previously requested an 18-month prison term for Kato, have one week to appeal the ruling.
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