April 10, 2023 09:47
A leaked cache of top-secret U.S. documents suggests that Washington wiretapped Korea's Office of National Security.
The New York Times last Friday reported that parts of a Ukraine-related cache of CIA documents circulating on social media detail Korea's "internal debates about whether to give the U.S. artillery shells for use in Ukraine, violating Seoul's policy on providing lethal aid."
The leaked documents involve U.S. assessments of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and arms supplies to Kiev, and some of them seem to contain information gathered by wiretapping Korea, Israel and other U.S. allies.
According to the Washington Post, one contains comments made during a meeting of Korea's Office of National Security showing that Seoul "grappled" in early March with a U.S. request to provide artillery ammunition to Ukraine.
According to the daily, the report cites "signals intelligence" to the effect that "Korea's national security adviser suggested possibly selling the munitions to Poland, which controls the main weapons supply routes, since it was the U.S. goal to get the material to Ukraine quickly."
Korean officials apparently worried that U.S. President Joe Biden would call personally to push the demand.
The presidential office held a meeting on Sunday to review the leaks and discuss a response. A senior official from the presidential office said the government "will look at a response by reviewing past precedents in other countries."
The U.S. has been caught eavesdropping on allies before, tapping the phones of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The U.S. government is investigating the source of the leak, which consists of photographed pdf printouts that appear in some cases to have been altered. Some are pointing the finger at Russia for leaking the classified documents in an attempt to drive a rift between the U.S. and its allies.
The New York Times said many of the online channels that distributed the classified information on Discord and Twitter have pro-Russian leanings, while military experts said Moscow appears to have forged certain documents such as estimates of Russian and Ukrainian losses.
Korea found itself in a difficult position providing weapons directly to Ukraine due to pacts with both the U.S. and Russia and dodged its own ban by supplying ammunition and other arms to European countries which they could in turn supply to Ukraine.
The presidential office said there is "no change" in Seoul's position on arms supplies to Ukraine.
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