The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is found to have run an office in Seoul and gathered intelligence regarding South Korea until last year. This has been revealed during a lawsuit over dismissal of the office’s former employees.
The civil dispute settlement court 42 of the Seoul Central District said Sunday that it rejected a lawsuit seeking “nullification of their dismissals’ against the U.S. government. “The U.S.’ installing an intelligence office in South Korea is an act of sovereignty by the U.S. as a sovereign nation,” the court stated in a ruling to reject the suit. The court thus judged that the suit was illegitimate according to the “principle of state immunity” based on international common law, which provides ‘a country’s act of sovereignty is exempt from another country’s jurisdiction.”
However, the lawsuit has led to the revelation of the fact ‘Open Source Enterprise,’ an agency for CIA, had opened an office in Seoul to gather intelligence on South Korea and ran it until June last year.
“Open Source Enterprise is part of CIA’s operation for overseas intelligence gathering and other activities, and would carry out the activities of gathering, compiling and translating information that was officially reported or published by foreign media already,” the court said.
Three people who worked for the agency between from 2005 and 2009 filed a lawsuit after they were dismissed in February and March last year. “The agency violated the requirements for mass layoffs because in violation of relevant regulations, the HR officer never sent them a prior notice on their dismissal,” they claimed. “A review committee on mass redundancy was never held despite their appeals.”
“The information that the trio and others processed cannot be construed as highly confidential,” the court said. “They were engaged in work that is closely related to Open Source Enterprise’s overseas information gathering.” One of them was responsible for finance, accounting, budgeting and human resources, another was in charge IT as an onsite technical officer at the Seoul office, and the third was engaged in information assessment and gathering, the court said in its ruling.
According to the ruling, CIA judged that operating a local facility and manpower was no longer efficient and thus decided to shut down all overseas offices at the request of the U.S. government. Then, the agency gave pink slips to those employees and closed all overseas offices in June last year.