Prosecutor: Korea-U.S. military info was leaked

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Prosecutor: Korea-U.S. military info was leaked

Confidential military information including the location of North Korea’s radar installations collected jointly by South Korea and the United States was leaked by a South Korean military officer, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

Experts say the case may have serious ramifications on Korea-U.S. military cooperation, as some of the data was leaked through the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that they arrested a man identified as Kim, 46, on charges of collecting and leaking confidential military information. Although he has been charged with leaking information, prosecutors are still investigating whether Kim passed on the confidential data to other countries or outside institutions.

In 2000, Kim founded a system integration company and in June 2002, the company won a contract to carry out an Air Force emitter identification data project commissioned by the Ministry of National Defense. The EID project was a secret military project to collect data on North Korea’s electronic signals sent through radars and develop a program to use this data.

In 2003, the project’s midpoint deadline, Kim said his company was not prepared. He met with Commander Jeon, 40, a working-level official for the project, and begged to be allowed to bring day-to-day electronic data - which is considered second-degree secret military information - to his office in order to meet the deadline.

Jeon initially refused the request, but ultimately gave Kim permission. Prosecutors said Jeon will be penalized for keeping quiet about his actions. Kim and Shin, 41, an employee of one of the project’s subcontractors, then copied five years’ worth of day-to-day electronic data onto his notebook computer. This data included information regarding the location and performance of the North Korean army’s radar installations which had been collected by reconnaissance aircraft from both the United States and South Korea. Kim also extracted a summary report on electronic information by logging onto the U.S. Pacific Command’s electronic system.

Kim’s contract had stipulated that he keep all information confidential, and he had agreed not to hire any subcontractors, as well as to conduct all project-related operations in the EID development center inside the designated Air Force area.

After winning the second part of the project in October 2003, Kim took more confidential information to his office, saying he needed to back up the data because it took him a long time to get to the Army base each day. In March 2004, he took even more data, saying he’d accidentally erased part of what he’d copied before.

Kim had reportedly taken on the EID project at a giveaway price, and eventually his company went bankrupt. To dodge his debts, Kim fled to Japan in November 2005. Once there, he finished a master’s and doctorate program at a local business school. But due to visa problems, Kim came back to Korea last month, only to be arrested by South Korea’s Defense Security Command in the airport.

In addition to the other charges, prosecutors are looking into whether Kim bribed military officials in order to win the EID project.

By Lee Chul-jae, Cho Jae-eun []

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