[EDITORIALS]Careful - ears are listening

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[EDITORIALS]Careful - ears are listening

The Grand National Party yesterday produced documents that it said are evidence of illegal wiretapping by the Kim Dae-jung administration. Ruling and opposition-party politicians, senior executives at media companies, journalists, local government chiefs and civic-group leaders -- all have been targeted by the government, the party charged. Recalling last month's revelations of alleged bugging of phone conversations of the chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commis-sion, a high-ranking Blue House official and the chairman of a business conglomerate, it seems fair to assume that anyone in the public or private sector was fair game in the alleged government game of listening.

The government in the past has strongly denied or glossed over the thorny issue, but made no effort at fact-finding. Things may be different this time. The latest evidence is detailed; those listened-to acknowledge their voices and conversations; and the evidence agrees with what they admit to having said.

The government would be greatly negligent to do no more than issue another denial. For President Kim Dae-jung, who has a shining record on human rights, the latest charges threaten to taint his image. The government should take this opportunity to inquire whether its passivity toward past wiretapping allegations has aggravated the situation.

Wiretapping is illegal, and it is a criminal activity that should be investigated by prosecutors. There is hard evidence of when and where the wiretapping took place. The prosecution has no possible excuse for delay. It should determine who did the wiretapping, and for what purpose. Prosecutors should also find out how the material found its way into the hands of the Grand National Party.

With the morality of the Kim Dae-jung administration at stake, the prosecutors should move quickly to form a special investigation team. The Grand National Party would do well to cooperate fully with the authorities, rather than to use the information in its possession for negative campaigning in the presidential election.

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