By Kang Hyun-kyung
The head of the nation’s spy agency said Friday that he was sorry his agency was “cited” as responsible for spying on the Indonesian delegation’s hotel room in February.
But he denied the allegation that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) was involved in the failed attempt to steal military secrets from a laptop belonging to the Indonesian team.
Media reports said that one female and two male NIS agents broke into a hotel room in order to steal classified military intelligence. After the reports, an Indonesian defense official said no military secrets were taken.
At a closed-door meeting with the members of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, Won Se-hoon, NIS director, was quoted as having expressed regret.
But Won clarified that this didn’t mean that he was admitting the NIS was involved in the case, according to Rep. Park Jie-won of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP).
Another DP lawmaker Choi Jae-sung, who attended the closed-door meeting complained about the NIS chief for his ambiguous attitude.
“During the meeting, he kept saying he had nothing to say about the case. I took this to mean that Won admitted that the spy agency was involved,” Choi said.
The NIS came under a barrage of criticism after it was reported secret agents’ had broken into the hotel room of the visiting Indonesian delegation.
Industry experts said it is widely known in the intelligence circle that agents spy on foreign delegates. But the problem was the way the NIS agents worked, they pointed out.
Lawmakers lashed out at the spy agency for its agents’ alleged operation, saying it was hard to believe the three people belonged to the spy agency because their demeanor was so open.
Some analysts alleged that competition between the spy agency and the military’s intelligence unit led to the disclosure of the case.
The Indonesian delegation was reportedly here last month over a defense deal to purchase T-50 fighters.
Some analysts speculated that the two intelligence units were in heavy competition to get the latest intelligence on the Indonesian team’s purchasing conditions and other military secrets. The alleged NIS team’s involvement in the case was disclosed amid a power struggle between the two intelligence units, they said.