Embassy in DC to review security after NSA leak

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Embassy in DC to review security after NSA leak

Following the leakage of classified documents by American whistle-blower Edward Snowden, sources say the Korean Embassy in Washington is undergoing a security review.

According to the September 2010 document leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor, the United States reportedly targeted at least 38 diplomatic missions for surveillance, including allies such as Korea, Japan, Mexico, India and France.

A diplomatic official at the Korean Embassy told the JoongAng Ilbo, “As Korea is included on the list, the embassy is checking internally if it has been affected by bugging.”

The official added that the embassy is looking into security measures to prevent bugging of its telecommunications systems.

The document reportedly details some surveillance methods used against the targets, including bugging communications devices and collecting transmissions data.

Another diplomatic source stated that the document says “phone calls, faxes and other communications with home countries are a part of NSA intelligence collection” and that, in addition to screening to see if the embassy is tapped, they have to “make sure that there was no damage done.”

Members of the opposition Democratic Party said the Park Geun-hye administration needs to “demand an apology and preventive measures from the U.S. government.”

“This is an issue that seriously undermines trust between the nations,” said DP spokesman Hong Ihk-pyo yesterday during a press briefing. “Already, a fair portion [of the document] has been confirmed as fact, and the United States needs to apologize.”

Kim Han-gill, chairman of the DP, also said yesterday at a National Assembly general meeting, “Nations across the world are protesting and criticizing the actions of the United States, but Korea has remained silent, as if nothing is wrong.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Han Hye-jin said yesterday that the ministry “requested the United States confirm the accuracy of the reports through diplomatic channels” and that “appropriate measures will be taken depending on the results.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the leaks yesterday, saying “every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security, and all kinds of information contribute to that.”

BY SARAH KIM, PARK SEUNG-HEE [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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