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Prosecutors May Investigate Roh Administration Bugging Allegations

Prosecutors May Investigate Roh Administration Bugging Allegations

Posted August. 18, 2005 03:05,   


The investigation team of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, which is in charge of the investigation into illegal wiretapping by the National Security Planning Agency (NSPA) and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said on August 17 that it might investigate if the NIS conducted any illegal bugging under the current Roh Moo-hyun administration.

The chief prosecutor of the investigation team, Hwang Gyo-ahn, said in response to the question if the team would investigate if there had been any eavesdropping after March 2002, when the illegal wiretapping allegedly stopped, said, “The prosecution does not focus on a specific administration or period. We can investigate whatever period, past or present, if there is a possibility wiretapping took place.”

Hwang added, “The prosecution is now experimenting how eavesdropping by using various wiretapping devices was possible, and reviewing the advancement of wiretapping technology.”

The prosecution summoned former and incumbent agents of the NIS to inquire into the secret bugging team called “Mirim” of the NSPA, and mobile phone tapping under the Kim Dae-jung administration. However, six or seven agents have not responded to summons, making the investigation difficult.

The prosecution indicted Park In-hoe (58), a Korean-American, on August 17, for trying to blackmail the Samsung Group into paying 500 million won and on criminal charges of attempted extortion and violation of the Telecommunications Security Protection Law after receiving tapes of bugged conversations between Samsung’s vice chairman and a newspaper president and notes from Gong Un-yong (58, imprisoned), a former chief of the Mirim team.

Meanwhile, it turned out that 755 wiretapping devices for “criminal investigation” were registered to the Ministry of Information and Communications by government agencies such as the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office and the National Policy Agency as of December 2004.

According to a report titled, “The State of Wiretapping Device Registration” prepared by the Communications Ministry and submitted to a Grand National Party lawmaker, the National Police Agency possess 401 devices, the largest number, followed by the prosecutors (317), the Defense Ministry (17) and the Korean Customs Service (17), and the National Maritime Police Agency (3).

Tae-Hoon Lee Yong-Gwan Jung jefflee@donga.com yongari@donga.com