Posted November. 17, 2005 07:58,
The prosecution is probing into whether the National Intelligence Service (NIS), formerly the National Security Agency, illegally bugged most of the prominent political figures in the ruling and opposition camps, including former President Kim Dae-jung and then presidential candidate of Millennium Democratic Party Roh Moo-hyun, under the Kim Dae-jung administration.
The prosecution believes that the wiretapping was probably conducted in the form of regular wiretapping of Park Ji-won, former presidential chief of staff and an influential figure of the former administration.
That day, it also called in Hong Seok-hyun, ex-ambassador to the U.S., and probed into a report that the Samsung Group was involved in providing illegal political funds to ruling and opposition presidential candidates before the 1997 presidential election.
The wiretapping investigation team at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office said on November 16 that it confirmed that Parks phone number was saved in an R2 system, which is designed to intercept fixed-line telephone calls, and that it is pursuing the list of prominent figures with whom telephone conversations were made.
The prosecution believes that Park frequently talked to influential politicians in the ruling and opposition camps, including former President Kim and then presidential candidate Roh, as a powerful official of the previous administration and that the NIS possibly bugged such conversations as well.
A prosecution official said, Given that the NIS saved Parks number in the wiretapping system, chances are that a considerable number of major figures in politics, bureaucracy, business, and the media who talked to Park on the phone were bugged.
If confirmed, this means that the intelligence agency illegally wiretapped even the head of state and presidential candidate of the ruling party, which is likely to have far-reaching implications.
It was also reported that the prosecutors office confirmed in the process of verifying charges against the two ex-NIS chief, Lim Dong-won and Shin Gunn, that the NIS wiretapped telephone conversations of Unification Minister Chung Dong-young and Health-Welfare Minister Kim Geun-tae, then candidates for the presidential candidate of the ruling party, in the run-up to the 2002 presidential election.
It also confirmed that the telephone conversation of August 2001 between former President Kim Young-sam and Park Jong-woong, Grand National Party representative who staged a hunger strike in protest of tax audit of media outlets, was also bugged.
The prosecution subpoenaed Lim who was detained in the Seoul Detention Center to have an additional investigation into the NIS wiretapping. It is planning to question the two former NIS chiefs as to whether they reported wiretapping information to Cheong Wa Dae or leaked it to influential government figures.