South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol in Tokyo, Japan 17 March 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/PHILIP FONG/POOL

Seoul, Washington claim leaked US intelligence documents ‘falsified’

Seoul, Apr 11 (EFE).- South Korean and United States defense officials agreed in a call Tuesday that the Pentagon documents recently leaked to social media networks revealing that Washington allegedly spied on the Seoul presidential compound were “falsified.”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appears before the House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the US Department of Defense, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

South Korean Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo spoke to reporters after a call between Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as he was about to fly to Washington to prepare for a summit between the presidents of the two countries.

The US national flag is draped at the Pentagon building at dawn before the 16th anniversary 9/11 remembrance ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 11 September 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

“The two countries have the same view that a great deal of disclosed information was fabricated,” Kim said, according to Yonhap news agency.

The South Korean Presidential Office said Tuesday that the compound in Seoul, including the underground bunker where the National Security Council (NSC) usually meets, maintains “watertight security.”

“The presidential office in Yongsan is a military facility, and a system, which is far stronger than that at Cheong Wa Dae (former presidential compound) in the past, is in operation to prevent eavesdropping,” it said in a statement reported by Yonhap.

“Clearly, the allegations are an absurd, false suspicion.”

According to the leaked documents – most of which focus on intelligence to do with Russia and its war in Ukraine, but which also include alleged US spying on allies such as South Korea, Israel and Ukraine – US intelligence spied on a conversation that took place during a March NSC meeting.

In those talks, then-Presidential Secretary for Foreign Affairs Lee Moon-hee and National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han reportedly discussed Washington’s request for Seoul to supply it with ammunition, which the South Korean officials worried might then be diverted to Ukraine’s military, contravening the South Korean commitment not to supply weapons to countries engaged in conflict.

However, sources consulted by Yonhap said Tuesday that it was impossible to eavesdrop on conversations in the building, and that the ammunition conversation between Lee and Kim did not take place there, if at all.

The case has come to light just two weeks before President Yoon Suk-yeol’s state visit to the US for a summit with President Joe Biden on April 26 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their security alliance. EFE