Citizens test constitutionality of Protection of Communications Secrets Act:
Lawyers say courts are issuing warrants for the NIS to engage in long-term packet eavesdropping and represents an abuse of the Protection of Communications Secrets Act
Posted on : Nov.4,2009 12:06 KST
Members of the Civic and Public Joint Measure Committee against the Suppression of the Pomminryon, or Pan-national Alliance for Korea’s Reunification announced on Tuesday that they plan to file for a Constitutional Court hearing to test the constitutionality of the Protection of Communication Secrets Act during a press conference held at MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society’s office located in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood. The decision was reached in consideration of the National Intelligence Service’s (NIS) involvement in long-term packet eavesdropping against the South Korean branch of the Pomminryon. Packet eavesdropping, which involves detailed monitoring of Internet activity, has been confirmed through the investigation documents submitted in a case against the Pomminryon.
According to the investigation document filed against Lee Kyung-won, the Pomminryon’s director, obtained by the Hankyoreh on Nov. 2, the NIS has engaged in packet eavesdropping in the committee’s Internet network for a 28-month period that began in 2003. The Seoul Western District Court issued a warrant for the packet eavesdropping on Nov. 26, 2004.
Since 2003, the NIS has had 18 warrants for communication interception approved. In one case, NIS had a warrant approved for packet eavesdropping against Pomminryon in April 2009, two months prior to the NIS indictment of three Pomminryon leaders, including Chairman Lee Kyu-jae. The warrant allows the NIS to monitor all lines of communication, including email, fax, and phone lines.
Won Jin-wook, the vice director of Pomminryon said, “The NIS submitted a document that used Pomminryon leaders’s mobile phones to track their whereabouts.” Won added, “This document reveals that the NIS has engaged in an indiscreet investigation against target civic organizations.”
Pomminryon defense team’s opinion letter submitted to prosecutors who are now examining the case states, “The Protection of Communications Secrets Act only permits the interception of communications in a limited fashion.” They continued, “The NIS, which has engaged in packet eavesdropping against Pomminryon for a long period of time, has engaged in an indiscreet investigation.”
Prosecutors’ official response is, “There are no problems with the how the NIS has conducted its investigation since it has conducted it in accordance with the Protection of Communications Secrets Act.”
Accordingly, Jang Yeo-gyeong, policy chief of the Jinbonet said, “The Protection of Communications Secrets Act was originally enacted to protect communications secrets, but has been since abused by the NIS in order to engage in surveillance of citizens.”
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