Military intelligence unit allegedly tapped phone talks between ex-president, minister: civic group

SEOUL, A civic group claimed Monday the military intelligence unit allegedly wiretapped phone conversations between a former liberal president and his defense minister and carried out illegal surveillance on millions of civilians.

Citing tip-offs from insiders, the Center for Military Human Rights Korea said the Defense Security Command (DSC) tapped the military phone line that was used by then-Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung when he talked with then-President Roh Moo-hyun more than a decade ago,

Yoon served as defense minister in 2004-2006 during the 2003-2008 Roh Moo-hyun administration.

"This means that the DSC, which should have been controlled by the president and the defense chief, surveilled them," the center said.

The group said that Roh talked with the minister about affairs related to Moon Jae-in, then-presidential secretary on civil affairs, who is now president.

It is not known why the intelligence unit intercepted the wire conversation or who might be behind the surveillance.

"It is hard to gauge how extensively the DSC wiretapped (the president and officials)," the center added.

The revelation came after the DSC is found to have devised detailed plans for declaring martial law last year to curb civilians' candlelight protests against the corruption-ridden president at that time, Park Geun-hye.

President Moon Jae-in recently ordered an independent probe in to the unit.

The civic group also said that the DSC is suspected of monitoring and collecting personal information about millions of civilians.

The intelligence unit allegedly collected personal data that civilians had provided to guardhouses when they visited military facilities, including military camps and courts.

Then, it illicitly read personal information about such visitors, including their home addresses and criminal records, it noted.

Source: Yonhap News Agency