Silence on U.S. wiretapping

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Silence on U.S. wiretapping

The U.S. National Security Agency’s alleged involvement in wiretapping and conducting cyberattacks against 38 foreign diplomatic missions in its homeland, including the Embassy of South Korea in Washington, is a grave issue which could lead to severe diplomatic conflicts across the world. Our government should demand the U.S. government immediately confirm the veracity of the stunning allegations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in The Guardian.

The government needs to take special note of the European Union’s drastic decision to put the brakes on the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with the U.S. after the German magazine Der Spiegel’s reports on the NSA’s alleged bugging activities. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights, exclaimed, “Partners do not spy on each other,” and gave a stern warning that the long-awaited negotiations for a free trade deal with the U.S. could be seriously affected if the bugging allegations proved true.

Compared to Reding’s tough response, however, an official at the Embassy of South Korea in Washington responded to the alarming allegations in a lukewarm manner. “We cannot officially react to unconfirmed reports by a few media,” he said in sharp contrast to the EU official’s response.

It is also regrettable that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of State in the United States came up with somewhat provocative remarks. They said that the United States collects information on other countries just as they do on America. U.S. President Barack Obama also shrugged off the issue by saying that each country’s intelligence agency makes its own efforts to know what’s happening in other countries’ capitals. But his remarks are quite inappropriate. As the U.S. government argues, intelligence activities take place in every part of the world. However, our government must demand from its ally an immediate clarification of the alleged bugging activities on our embassy and complain officially about the case if they prove true.

After the public uproar over the shocking allegations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs belatedly explained that it had requested the U.S. government confirm the allegation before announcing it would take proper measures if necessary. That’s fortunate. But the foreign ministry and the Korean embassy in Washington should take the alleged wiretapping case as an opportunity to raise the level of security in our diplomatic missions overseas after first finding out how they were bugged by U.S. intelligence agencies.

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