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Former NIS Official May Have Ordered Lawmakers Wiretapped

Former NIS Official May Have Ordered Lawmakers Wiretapped

Posted October. 10, 2005 03:03,   


Prosecutors have been investigating reports that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) illegally intercepted conversations during the Kim Dae-jung administration.

As of October 9, prosecutors are focusing their investigative attention on an allegation regarding Kim Eun-seong, a former deputy intelligence director in charge of domestic affairs at the NIS. Kim Eun-seong allegedly carried out tapping mostly on politicians and journalists, and then reported the intercepted conversations to influential figures of Kim Dae-jung’s inner circle, including Kwon No-gap.

The prosecutors’ investigation covers whether the illegally received information was reported to Cheong Wa Dae by either the NIS head or anyone from Kim Dae-jung’s political inner circle.

“Former Deputy Director Kim might have reported the tapped conversations to some politicians on a regular basis. We are looking at the suspicion. We will find the truth,” said the investigation team entrusted with the wiretapping case at the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office.

While digging for more clues with both former and incumbent NIS employees, the investigators discovered that former Deputy Director Kim ordered wiretaps of phone conversations of junior members in the Democratic Party. Junior members in the party in late 2000 were demanding for the resignation of Kwon, their party leader at the time.

The prosecution suspects that Kim Eun-seong might have given the illegally eavesdropped conversations to Kwon and other politicians close to former president Kim Dae-jung, and is engaged in an investigation into the matter.

“Kim has never reported anything to Kwon. And Kim’s information cannot be trusted,” said one of Kwon’s close associates in Kwon’s defense.

But the prosecution noted in its arrest warrant for the former NIS deputy director that Kim directed wiretapping on some persons in particular after he was told about some illegally-gotten intelligence regarding important domestic issues.

“It was confirmed that the NIS used the cell phone numbers of influential figures in Korea to carry out organized wiretapping on a large scale for a long time,” revealed the investigators.

In addition, the prosecutors found out that Kim Eun-seong told his subordinates at the NIS who were entrusted with wiretapping (the Science and Security Department) to cover up their tapping activities. It was in December 2001, right after Kim’s arrest because of his involvement in “Jin Seung-hyeon Gate” (a political as well as financial scandal) when those NIS employees visited Kim at the detention center.

Even after the current investigation into possible NIS wiretapping was launched, the former NIS senior official met with both former and current workers at the Science and Security Department several times to order a cover-up.

However, Kim Eun-seong’s lawyer defended his client, saying that Kim only met his immediate superiors, Lim Dong-won and Sin Geon, both of whom were former NIS heads. The lawyer stressed that they met only two to three times and talked on the phone five to six times.

woogija@donga.com leon@donga.com