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Blue House hits back at claims of unlawful intelligence gathering

Cheong Wa Dae on Monday hit back at a former investigator of the special inspection team, requesting the Ministry of Justice take further action against the individual.

In the latest response to claims made by Kim Tae-woo, a former member of Cheong Wa Dae’s special inspection team, Cheong Wa Dae said he is spreading false information and breaking security regulations by revealing intelligence reports. 

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom. Yonhap
Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom. Yonhap

“(Kim) disclosing intelligence reports he compiled and making false accusations cannot be tolerated,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said Monday, in reference to news reports citing Kim Tae-woo’s claims on a number of intelligence reports.

Earlier in the day, a number of local news outlets had reported allegations that Cheong Wa Dae’s special inspection team went beyond its authority to surveil civil servants and civilians, citing a list of reports Kim claims to have compiled.

According to Kim, the inspection team looked into activities of the son of a former prime minister and bank presidents, and monitored the personal activities of a diplomat. He also said that a report on the Ministry of Environment’s response to problems in recyclable waste collection went beyond the special inspection team’s authority.

Cheong Wa Dae, however, refuted the reports, saying that related activities were conducted lawfully.

“As these actions go directly against Cheong Wa Dae’s security regulations, (the presidential office) sent an additional request for penalization today,” Kim Eui-kyeom said.

The spokesperson also said that the reports compiled by Kim Tae-woo were rejected after reviews by senior officials of the special inspection team and the presidential anti-corruption secretary for lacking credibility or for being irrelevant to the team’s operations.

Kim Eui-kyeom added that Kim Tae-woo, who is currently under investigation, is attempting to shake off allegations against him by making unfounded claims.

Kim Tae-woo was removed from Cheong Wa Dae in November and sent back to the prosecutors’ office over suspected wrongdoings in his capacity as a member of the special inspection team.

The former special inspection team member is reported to have made unauthorized contact with police regarding an open investigation related to an intelligence report he compiled. According to Cheong Wa Dae, Kim Tae-woo’s phone records also included several calls with the subject of an investigation.

Controversy surrounding Kim Tae-woo surfaced last week when he claimed he had been unfairly dismissed from Cheong Wa Dae due to his report on Woo Yoon-keun, Korean ambassador to Russia.

Kim Tae-woo said that although he secured evidence that Woo, a former Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker, had taken illegal funds from a construction company owner, Cheong Wa Dae ignored the information. Woo, who took office as the ambassador to Russia in October last year, denies all allegations.

While Cheong Wa Dae has rejected the allegations and warned of legal action, Kim Tae-woo continues to make new accusations. In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo daily, Kim Tae-woo said he was a “sacrificial lamb” removed for compiling reports on individuals with connections to the administration.

He claimed to have compiled numerous reports containing information on suspected wrongdoings of high-level government officials with ties to the ruling party, and that the report on Woo was not the only one ignored.

By Choi He-suk (