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Prosecutors Continue Wiretapping Investigation

Posted August. 10, 2005 03:11,   


Public Security Department Two (head prosecutor: Seo Chang-hi) of the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors’ Office, which is currently investigating the wiretapping scandal involving the National Security Planning Agency (NSPA), the predecessor to the National Intelligence Service (NIS), summoned Lee Hak-su, a senior executive of Samsung Group, as a defendant and reference on August 9.

The prosecution looked into whether Korean-American William Park (Park In-hoe, 58, arrested) asked Lee for 500 million won in exchange for handing over wiretapped tapes containing conversations about Samsung’s plan to offer illegal fund to presidential candidates.

The prosecution also investigated wiretapped conversations between Lee and Hong Seok-hyun, then-publisher of a Samsung-affiliated daily newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, in response to the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy’s complaint against 20 figures, including Lee, who were allegedly involved in offering illegal campaign funds in the run-up to the 1997 presidential election.

Lee appeared at the prosecutor’s office only about a year after he had been summoned to the Supreme Public Prosecutor`s Office in February of last year on charges of being involved in Samsung’s plan to offer illegal campaign funds during the 2002 presidential election.

Lee appeared at the prosecutor’s office in Seocho-dong, Seoul at about 1:48 p.m. on the same day. He said that “I am sorry to concern you in many ways.” When asked by journalists “if he admitted the contents of the wiretapped tapes,” he only said, “I will make it clear in the prosecutor’s room,” and headed for the room.

The prosecution said that it would consider the necessity of summoning other defendants, including Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s chairman, and Hong after finishing their investigation into Lee.

A prosecution official said that “even though the defendants (including chairman Lee) are subject to a prosecution’s summons in principle, it remains to be seen whether they will actually be under investigation”.

Special Investigation Department One (head prosecutor: Yoo Jae-man) of the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors’ Office, which has been investigating the NIS’s involvement in alleged wiretapping during the Kim Dae-jung administration, is considering a seizure and search of the NIS as early as this week.

A prosecution official said that “as soon as the investigation team finishes reviewing data and setting up an investigation plan, the prosecution will decide whether and when it will search the NIS,” adding that “we are seeking workable and effective ways.”

Following yesterday’s events, the prosecution investigated Lim (58), a former associate of the NIS’s predecessor and an employee who has hidden himself for a while, over how the 1999 wiretapped tapes were leaked.

Tae-Hoon Lee jefflee@donga.com