Constroversial South Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon left the United States for London last month, shortly after learning that a House subcommittee planned to subpoena him to testify about alleged ties between his Unification Church and the Korean government.
Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.), chairman of a House International Relations subcommittee investigating Moon's activities, made the disclosure yesterday after a hearing where he released summaries of U.S. intelligence documents that said the Korean Central Intelligence Agency paid Moon's followers to hold anti-Japanese demonstrations in 1974.
Fraser said he didn't know whether Moon left the country to avoid getting a subpoena. But he added, "We have the impression he left without a lot of advance preparation."
A church spokesman in New York issued a statement denying any connection between the planned subpoena and Moon's departure. The evangelist will return to the United States after his "long-awaited" trip, the spokesman added, but probably not in time for the scheduled June 13 appearance called for in the subpoena, which was issued but not served by the time Moon left.
Another church official, Neal Salonan, president of the Unification Church in the United States, said Fraser's comments were "clearly another media grandstand play . . . to justify spending $685,000 of the taxpayer's money and to advance [his] political career."
The church spokesman in New York said Moon would fight the subpoena in court upon his return as an invasion of his freedom of religion. Moon, whose church has been accused of brainwashing youthful converts, is a Korean citizen but is now a permanent resident of the United States.
The spokesman also denied the subcommittee findings that church followers had been paid by the KCIA to hold demonstrations.
Meanwhile, in a related development, House investigator Leon Jaworski met with South Korean Ambassador Kim Yong Shik at the State Department yesterday in a renewed effort to work out a compromise on House demands for sworn testimony from a Korean diplomat suspected of making cash payments to current House members.
Diplomatic sources said Jaworski requested the meeting and there are hopeful signs for future sessions.
Yesterday's Fraser subcommittee hearing featured testimony from Kim Sang Keun, a high-ranking KCIA official in Washington from 1970 until he sought asylum in the United States in late 1976. He confirmed U.S. intelligence reports that KCIA officials in Seoul had ordered the anti-Japanese demonstrations in September of 1974.
The protest was aimed at criticizing an alleged lack of cooperation by Japanese officials in investigating the assassin of the wife of South Korean President Park Chung Hee. The Korean-born killer lived in Japan.
The planned demonstration here was called off after a State Department official complained to the Korean embassy, according to the declassified summaries of U.S. intelligence reports. Kim Sang Keun said yesterday that he wasn't aware until after the cancellation that members of the Unification Church were to be involved in the protest.
Subcommittee officials refused to discuss the origins of the intelligence reports except to say they were reliable. But other sources said that at least some of the information came from embassy cables intercepted by the supersecret National Security Agency.
The intelligence summaries also referred to a 1975 trip by KCIA officials in Washington to see church officials in New York to complain about lobbying at the United Nations by Moon followers. But by the end of the year, the KCLA chief in Washington was told to cooperate with Moon, according to the summarized intelligence documents, because he was viewed as a "positive factor" in Seoul.