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Cheong Wa Dae Protests Wiretap Warrants

Posted November. 16, 2005 08:23,   


Cheong Wa Dae expressed public dissatisfaction regarding the prosecution’s request for arrest warrants for former National Intelligence Service (NIS) directors Lim Dong-won and Shin Gunn yesterday, saying, “The prosecutors’ request for arrest warrants for them went too far.”

Lim and Shin are suspected of being at the helm of wiretapping operations under the Kim Dae-jung administration.

In response, some are criticizing that Cheong Wa Dae’s comment before warrant examinations for the two former national spy agency’s chiefs appears to be an attempt to undermine the prosecution’s independence in the investigation, and an attempt to exert influence on the court’s warrant examinations.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo said yesterday, “In a daily issue check meeting presided over by Presidential Chief of Staff Lee Byung-wan, some said that prosecutors’ request for arrest warrants for the two former NIS directors went too far in light of the principle of investigating without detention, although a strict investigation into the illegal bugging operations is needed.”

He added, “A participant of the meeting said that given the two former NIS directors’ contributions to the country, their achievements and the principle of investigating without physical detention, the prosecutors’ such decision was too much. Another participant said that the prosecutors’ request for arrest warrants for the two makes us consider the principle of equity, given that figures in charge of masterminding the spy agency’s clandestine bugging team are free of charges only because statute of limitations for them expired.”

Kim also said, however, “The presidential office’s official stance was not yet decided in the meeting,” adding, “I just delivered some personal views regarding this issue.”

In a warrant examination held by the Seoul Central District Court yesterday afternoon, Lim and Shin flatly denied the charges against them, saying, “We were not involved in illegal wiretapping.”

The prosecution presented statements from figures involved in the bugging operations and circumstantial evidence showing that Lim actively took the lead in the illegal wiretapping, such as ordering NIS officials to collect tips about domestic political issues by using cell phone bugging devices, as justification for its request for arrest warrants for the two.

Prosecutors also insisted that detaining Shin was inevitable because he was involved in illegal wiretapping during his tenure, and that he attempted to destroy evidence, such as instructing a former NIS executive to change his statement.

Meanwhile, the prosecution expressed strong dissatisfaction with Cheong Wa Dae’s criticism that the prosecution’s request for arrest warrants for the two was too much. A senior prosecutor said, “The political sector should first consider illegal wiretapping to be too much or that meting out harsh punishments for such activities is going too far.”

The prosecution posted three articles describing the wiretap investigation team’s position, including the prosecutors’ position regarding detaining the two former NIS directors, and prosecutors’ worries on its internal internet network, ‘e-pros.’

Yeon-Wook Jung Tae-Hoon Lee jyw11@donga.com jefflee@donga.com