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Prosecution First Adopted Wiretapping Devices before the NIS

Prosecution First Adopted Wiretapping Devices before the NIS

Posted August. 24, 2005 03:00,   


The prosecution was found to be the actual early adopter of wiretapping devices before the Agency for National Security Planning, the predecessor to the National Intelligence Service (NIS). About a year before the agency started to use the device, the prosecution had already imported mobile phone-wiretapping devices from overseas.

Lawmaker Joo Ho-Young from the Grand National Party (GNP) released a wiretapping device purchasing record on August 23 obtained through the Board of Audit and Inspection. The record shows that the Supreme Public Prosecutors` Office had imported a wiretapping device through “U” trading company in March 1995.

The NIS said on August 5 that it imported four devices to tap analog mobile phones from Italy in January 1996.

The record also indicated that the prosecution purchased seven more devices in April and December 1996 and in January 1998.

“The purchase at that time was only intended to support investigations, and the devices were all eliminated later,” said the public affairs officer Kang Chan-woo of the Supreme Public Prosecutors` Office.

Joo claimed that the Ministry of Justice’s advertisement, along with the NIS, carried on major newspapers in September 1999, was an act of deceiving the public since the ad stated that mobile phones could not be wiretapped. The lawmaker strongly requested that the Justice Minister apologize to the Korean public.

Also in the parliamentary records during the National Assembly’s inspection of the administration in November 2000, then Information and Communication Minister Ahn Byung-yub said that the prosecution had purchased five analog mobile phone wiretapping devices with a price tag of 250 million won a piece.

However, Kim Jong-yul, the scientific investigation officer from the prosecution, said that the total price for the five devices was 255 million won. He also explained that the prosecution had never purchased a similar device to tap digital mobile phones, and that the purchased devices became useless and were eliminated in early 2001.

Jung-Eun Lee lightee@donga.com