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Activists move to file suit against NIS

Civic activists on Wednesday announced plans to file complaints against current and past chiefs of Korea’s top spy agency for allegedly wiretapping government critics with the help of an Italian contractor.

Activists from the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy will file the suit to urge local state prosecutors to probe the case as soon as they finalize the cosignatories. Members of MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and Jinbo Net, two local human rights groups, are likely to back the efforts.

“A parliamentary probe into the National Intelligence Service scandal is a must, but a more thorough and forcible investigation is necessary, including raids led by law enforcement officials,” a PSPD official was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying early Wednesday.

The report is expected to name incumbent NIS chief Lee Byung-ho and past NIS heads Lee Byung-kee and Nam Jae-joon as the accused, a PSPD spokesperson said later Wednesday, asking not to be named as the person was not authorized to talk to media on the case.

“We only have a rough draft, but we are going to file it no matter what. We’re in the middle of finalizing the details, such as the how and when,” the source added.

“We’re going to try to file it at least by the end of next week,” MINBYUN spokesperson Park Ju-min said later Wednesday.

The announcement by activists from the PSPD comes as local media reported earlier in the day that the NIS had allegedly bugged South Koreans in China for years using malware developed by Hacking Team, a Milan, Italy-based malware surveillance vendor.

Hacking Team allegedly produced malware for the NIS since at least 2010, according to leaked emails available on WikiLeaks. The NIS last week confirmed that it had purchased 20 malware programs from Hacking Team, but denied using them to spy on South Korean nationals.

Local reports, however, continue to accuse the NIS of bugging outspoken critics of the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, citing the leaked emails. 

Activists at a rally criticizing the NIS`s alleged wiretapping in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Activists at a rally criticizing the NIS`s alleged wiretapping in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The liberal main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy was struggling to initiate parliamentary probes and hearings into the scandal. The ruling Saenuri Party opposes holding hearings, expressing fear that national secrets could be leaked.

Party representatives carried out talks over how the National Assembly should carry out a potential parliamentary probe into the scandal later Wednesday.

By Jeong Hunny (
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Korea Herald daum