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Prosecutor`s Office Looks into Wiretapping Scandal

Posted March. 20, 2003 22:12,   


The Public Security Division 2 of the Seoul District Public Prosecutors` Office reportedly grilled a National Intelligence Service field officer in charge of the Kwongjoo office yesterday, who was arrested for leakage of classified information. The Public Prosecutor`s office (DA`s office) questioned him for any connection of his disclosure with the wiretapping scandal revealed by the Grand National Party. The prosecution has been conducting a probe into the wiretapping scandal, which alleges that the intelligence body had conducted a systematic illegal wiretapping nationwide.

A prosecutor in charge of that case confirmed, "We are trying to find out whether he leaked the classified information at all, and, if he did, what role he played in disclosure of the scandal."

Working in the internal affairs division of the National Intelligence Service, he reported the misconduct of two NIS officials, or Kim Eun-sung and Chung Sung-hong, who were arrested and indicted for another corruption scandal. In return, however, he was demoted to his current position.

On the other hand, the prosecution released another NIS senior agent and two civilians yesterday, who were rounded up in connection with the case, since the detention limit, or 48 hours, had lapsed. But they are still subject to investigation due to their suspected link to the leakage case.

Upon verifying their misconduct, the DA`s office intends to indict them for violation of the NIS Act and other statutes.

The office also confirmed that it was investigating yet another wiretapping allegation made by a Blue House senior official, who was quoted as saying, "The NIS is conducting wiretapping on the international long distance calls for national security reasons." The prosecution is trying to verify whether the allegation is true, and why the allegation is made.

Under the current law, all wiretappings should be conducted after obtaining a prior warrant from the court. Thus, the DA`s office believes, if it had been conducted on the long distance calls without warrant, it would constitute a violation of the law.

Last year, the Grand National Party came up with some documents allegedly recording the telephone dialog between then Blue House Chief of Staff Park Je-won and a Japanese businessman. The disclosure was made in the process of revealing an allegedly secret deal between them concerning North Korea.

One prosecutor, however, said, "We are conducting a probe into the allegation to verify whether the documents disclosed by the Grand National Party were in fact made based on a wiretapping. For now, however, we have not confirmed any facts yet."

The prosecution, however, did not make any comment on whether the dialog between Park and the Japanese businessman took place indeed and, if so, how the Grand National Party could obtain the information.

In the meanwhile, the DA`s office plans to hold a press conference today, and explain the status of the investigation and its approach in the case.

Sang-Rok Lee myzodan@donga.com