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“NIS Conducted Illicit Eavesdropping during the Kim Dae-jung Administration”

“NIS Conducted Illicit Eavesdropping during the Kim Dae-jung Administration”

Posted August. 26, 2005 03:06,   


Regarding the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) illicit wiretapping during the Kim Dae-jung administration, NIS Director Kim Seung-gyu said on August 25 that “officials who had used R-2, a bugging device on the cable relay communication network, did not deny the fact that some of their eavesdropping efforts were conducted illegally with no regard to special investigations or national security purposes.

“It turned out that when it came to the bugging device on the cable relay communication network, the NIS could freely add to or modify the list of phone numbers that it wanted to wiretap,” said Kim in the plenary meeting of the Intelligence Committee at the National Assembly on this day.

Against this backdrop, controversy is expected over whether the NIS utilized the device in extensively wiretapping politicians. In response, the Grand National Party (GNP) argued that the intelligence agency’s virtually indiscriminate eavesdropping during the Kim Dae-jung administration was finally brought to light.

“I could not identify exactly who ordered whom to wiretap whom and how the outcome of the bugging was used,” said the NIS director, adding that he would like the public to “understand that a more advanced form of fact-finding can only be expected in the process of the prosecution’s future investigations.”

R-2 is an eavesdropping device enabled by connecting lines to local cable exchangers of the cable communication network. Given that each section between telecommunication base stations is linked by cable, however, it has been said that even cell phones are subject to wiretapping.

Contrary to its August 5 announcement that it scrapped “CASS”—a portable wiretapping device on cell phones—in September 2000, the NIS reported on August 25 that it additionally discovered the device had been used until April 2001.

The NIS director went on to say, “The device was mainly used in anti-Communist and drug offense investigations. Nevertheless, [the NIS] could barely avoid suspicions that the equipment had been used in illicit wiretapping, for the spy agency did not follow legitimate procedures, such as issuing warrants, when applying for using the device.”

“Some evidence was revealed that illicit eavesdropping cases took place during the Kim Dae-jung administration. At the same time, however, these cases were quite different from those in the past in that they were not conducted in an indiscriminate way,” added Kim.

One NIS official stated, “There were some 10 cases of illegal wiretapping, which are deemed to be against the law as they failed to follow legitimate procedures.”

Yong-Gwan Jung Jung-Eun Lee yongari@donga.com lightee@donga.com