NIS Behind Break-In at Indonesian Delegation

Three intruders who broke into the room of Indonesian presidential envoys at Seoul's Lotte Hotel on the morning of Feb. 16 were agents from the National Intelligence Service, it has emerged. A high-ranking government official said the NIS "tried to find out the negotiation strategy of the Indonesian delegation in pursuit of the national interest. It was an unintended consequence that they were caught."

Soon after some 50 Indonesian officials including Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa left for Cheong Wa Dae to meet President Lee Myung-bak, two men and a women broke into the room on the 19th floor of the Lotte Hotel, but they were surprised by one of the Indonesian officials while they were looking into laptops there and fled. It is uncertain whether the agents copied data from the laptop.

The NIS agents were apparently desperate to obtain Indonesia's negotiation strategy for the purchase of Korea's T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet, K2 Black Panther main battle tank, and portable surface-to-air missile. Korea is in fierce competition with Russia's Yak-130 trainer jet.

The government has been working hard to win an export deal after negotiations with the United Arab Emirates and Singapore faltered. One T-50 is priced at US$25 million, and the government aims to export 1,000 by 2030.

A government official said, "It seems that NIS took way too much risk due to this obsession with the export of the T-50." An intelligence official claimed it is "an open secret" that intelligence agencies of every country are engaged in a highly sophisticated battle for intelligence. "After the intrusion was reported in the media, the NIS exerted a great deal of effort through many channels to smooth over the situation," he added.

Police said earlier that due to the low resolution of the CCTV at the Lotte Hotel, they were unable to identify the intruders.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 21, 2011 13:24 KST