19 July 2015

Spying on Lawyers Leads to Call for Investigation of South Korean Intelligence Agency

July 17, 2015

South Korean lawyers call for investigation into spy agency

SEOUL, July 16 (UPI) – South Korean lawyers are demanding answers from Seoul’s spy agency after WikiLeaks posted a Twitter message claiming lawyers’ computers were hacked.

The Korean Bar Association requested an investigation on Thursday, South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo reported. The group of lawyers issued a statement claiming the National Intelligence Service was in violation of Korea’s Communications Privacy Act when it used a program from Italian firm Hacking Team to spy on lawyers.

“Investigators should carefully look into the hacking’s agency and purpose, and mete out severe punishment to those responsible,” the statement read.

The Korean Bar Association said the hacking could retrieve conversations on mobile phones, transmitted content and photos. Real-time surveillance also was possible, the group said.

South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported a senior official at the intelligence agency denied the WikiLeaks claim, which was posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

The spy agency contact said WikiLeaks was confusing South Korea with a Mongolian target, when it used the acronym “SKA” in referring to the case.

An email WikiLeaks posted included the acronym “MOACA” alongside “SKA,” the contact said, and MOACA is shorthand for the Mongolian police.

Munhwa Ilbo reported the spy agency contact did say certain individuals were the targets of surveillance, including a U.S.-based scholar with the initial “A” who previously challenged findings that concluded North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in 2010.

The National Intelligence Service did not deny it spies on pro-Pyongyang individuals through computer surveillance, but said it did not have collection capabilities on KakaoTalk, a popular South Korean chatting application.

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