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Seoul denies leakage of Lee-Obama conversation

No classified information containing telephone conversations between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama have been leaked, the Foreign Ministry here said over the weekend, denying speculations over the Chinese hacking incident.

Speculations soared over the weekend after Shin Hak-yong, lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party, claimed to have received a report from intelligence officials that a secret document written by the South Korean Foreign Ministry ahead of the 2009 Group of 20 Summit had been leaked to China via hackers.

The document, titled “plans for London G20 Summit,” includes the government’s positions and strategies for the international event as well as related intelligence collected by overseas Korean missions, the legislator said.

It also contains a transcript of telephone conversations between Lee and Obama that took place around that time, according to Shin.

“Based on our investigation, allegations over the leakage of leaders’ telephone conversation have been found untrue,” Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “No emails belonging to the ministry were hacked during the period.”

An official at the diplomatic mission in London fell victim to Chinese hackers while exchanging emails concerning the G20 summit in March 2009, but the information had nothing to do with the ministry or the state leaders’ conversation, the ministry added.

“We have asked our diplomatic missions to make more effort in keeping to the principles to use a separate network when exchanging diplomatic documents and to prevent officials from storing classified information on their personal computers,” a ministry official said.

By Shin Hae-in and news reports (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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