South Korean police formally arrested four anti-American students who stormed the US ambassador's residence in Seoul last week while protesting against the Trump administration's demands that the country pay more to help cover the costs of keeping US troops there. .
The Seoul Central District Court said on Tuesday that its judges issued arrest warrants to the four students over concerns that they would try to flee or destroy evidence.
The judges denied arrest warrants for three other students who had minor roles in the protest and were more cooperative with the investigation.
Police also searched the office of a Seoul activist group that was allegedly involved in organizing the protest on Tuesday.
Police initially detained 19 college students on Friday afternoon at Ambassador Harry Harris's residence after 17 used two steel ladders to climb the compound's wall and shouted at the US. slogans before the officers dragged them out.
At the time of the protest, Harris was at the Seoul Presidential Blue House, attending a reception hosted by President Moon Jae-in.
The US State Department expressed “strong concern” about illegal entry and urged South Korea to strengthen its efforts to protect diplomatic missions.
The protesters were members of a leftist student group, which on Tuesday issued a statement denouncing the arrests over what it described as a "fair fight" and accused the US of violating South Korea's sovereignty with excessive demands for defense payments.
"Although four college students have been arrested, we will not back down and fight more fiercely than before," the group said.
Officials at the Naedaemun district police station in Seoul did not immediately comment when planning to refer the case to state prosecutors, who have sole authority to prosecute suspects or what kind of punishment would be possible.
Under South Korean law, organizing prohibited protests on diplomatic missions is punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine of up to 1 million won ($ 854).
Source: The Associated Press