Mon, Sep 30, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Justice ministry to form wiretapping task force

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The Ministry of Justice yesterday announced it will form a task force to look into allegations of improper wiretapping by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Division (SID).

“The SID wiretapping has caused widespread concern ... and has made the public question the government’s credibility. After [incoming] Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) and I discussed the matter, the ministry decided to form a task force today to search for the truth, and its conclusions will be published as soon as possible,” acting Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) told a press conference.

He added that Vice Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan (吳陳鐶) will direct the task force, which will include officials from a number of ministry departments.

Chen said that after Lo assumes office today, the minister would only review the problem of unauthorized wiretapping and seek to correct abuses.

Meanwhile, the SID sought to correct media reports by saying the division wiretapped the legislature’s central exchange number between May 16 and June 14, a period of about a month, not for four months as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and media reports have claimed.

It added that because the agency authorized by the SID to carry out the wiretaps was unable to monitor a central exchange number, which transferred inbound calls to designated offices or individuals, and all those wiretap records were blank as it failed to record any conversations, the SID did not apply to the Taipei District Court to extend the wiretapping period.

The wiretapping of the legislature’s central exchange number ended on June 14, it added.

The SID said that because a letter issued by the Taipei District Court to notify Ker of the end of the wiretap (Ker’s telephone was tapped between May 16 and Sept. 9) listed Ker’s number and the legislature’s central exchange number together, Ker might have erroneously concluded that both lines were wiretapped for four months.

The SID added that the division has asked the district court to correct the error.

Chen’s announcement came a day after Huang confirmed that the SID had tapped the switchboard of the Legislative Yuan.

He said the division had mistaken the switchboard number for the cellphone number of one of Ker’s aides.

Although Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) has apologized, saying the bugging was a mistake made because the switchboard through which that aide made telephone calls bears a 10-digit phone number similar to that of a cellphone, lawmakers have called for his resignation for bugging the legislature.

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