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[Editorial] Why the Government Is Wrong to Hinder the Wiretap Investigation

[Editorial] Why the Government Is Wrong to Hinder the Wiretap Investigation

Posted November. 16, 2005 08:23,   


As the prosecution requests arrest warrants against the two former National Intelligence Service (NIS) chiefs under the Kim Dae-jung administration, Lim Dong-won and Shin Gunn, on the charge of playing a leading role in illegal wiretapping, the former president and the incumbent administration are chanting “no” to the arrests in unison. It is fair to say that this testifies that their emphasis on the rule of law, human rights, and justness of correcting past history was nothing but hypocrisy.

Illegal wiretapping systematically done by the NIS is a felony against the country’s public power. First of all, it is a critical violation of human rights of those who were bugged. However, former President Kim Dae-jung, who claimed to be a president championing human rights, and his aides did not offer an apology. Instead, they demanded the request of arrest warrants be withdrawn, calling the request “wicked and incomprehensible.” Although the prosecution requested arrest warrants only against the two ex-NIS chiefs, whose statute of limitations have not expired, that does not mean there was no illegal bugging before these two. Also, the former president is not in a position to argue that he has no responsibility for wiretapping because he vowed to “eliminate wiretapping.” Under those circumstances, he describes the prosecution as “wicked,” to which one might respond by saying, “Look who’s talking!”

Yesterday, Cheong Wa Dae announced its official stance in the aides’ meeting: “Judging on the principle of investigation without detention, the request of arrest warrants has gone too far.” Bae Ki-sun, secretary general of the ruling Uri Party, went so far as to say, “It is not in the interest of the country. It’s a second kimchi scandal.” The administration has argued there should be no statute of limitations for crimes committed by the state power. Now, have those in the administration developed collective amnesia?

Three months ago, President Roh Moo-hyun emphasized in his congratulatory remarks for the country’s Liberation Day, saying, “There is necessity to enact a law which prevents application of statute of limitations to crimes committed by the abuse of state power.” Prior to that, the Uri Party submitted an “exemption bill on the statute of limitations for anti-human rights state crimes” to the National Assembly in July.

Is it that the government should exempt the statute of limitations to attack hostile and stick to the “principle of investigation without detention” for politics in the real world? The government went after incidents of 30, 50 years ago and even took on the issue of pro-Japanese collaborators, stating, “Only when we clear and correct the wrong past history can the country have the future.” Then, now it shifts its stance and calls the effort to clear the recent state crimes “not in the national interest.” That makes one question whether it is in the national interest if it presses the prosecution and court and shakes the rule of law on which democracy is based in pursuit of political gains.