Thu, May 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

NSB denies report of wiretapping in Presidential Office

By Flora Wang and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The deputy director of the National Security Bureau (NSB) yesterday denied a report that it was tapping President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cellphone calls.

Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said he had no idea what the story, published in the latest issue of the Chinese-language Next Magazine, was talking about.

“I can assure you that we are not tapping the phones of any personnel domestically at the moment,” Tsai said when approached for comment at the legislature yesterday morning.

Tsai made the remark after the magazine reported that the nation’s intelligence began to secretly monitor conversations by Ma and his top aides after he was sworn in.

The magazine said Ma’s aides had received e-mails containing Trojan horse software sent from “specific agencies” under titles related to confidential meetings between Ma’s aides.

The story said the Presidential Office had installed surveillance cameras all over the building and tightened security inside.

Ma and his aides were forced to hold meetings at irregular intervals, the report said, adding that all cellphones were switched off and placed inside lead boxes to prevent anyone from learning the locations of the gatherings by intercepting cellphone signals.

Ma’s aides and officials at the office had also installed equipment that helped detect wiretapping signals on their office telephones, the story said.

Asked for comment, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he did not know whether the story was true, but he said he also suspected that his communications may have been intercepted by intelligence agencies.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said the caucus would demand that government branches in charge of wiretapping report on the matter.

Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said that if Ma’s phones were being tapped, it was probably the result of the KMT’s own internal struggles.

“He’s the president and only those in authority have the access to tap people’s conversations. This is obviously part of a political tug-of-war inside the KMT,” he said at a press conference yesterday morning.

Lai said that Ma should ask law enforcement officers to find out if anyone has been carrying out surveillance against him rather than tell the story to the press.

Since not many had the authority to ask the NSB to tap a person’s phone, Lai said, it was obvious some high-ranking KMT member had made the request.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday dismissed the report as “pompous,” “sensational” and “false,” adding that its headline was inconsistent with its content.

Wang said he hadn’t heard any complaints about eavesdropping and that the story was about what happened during the election, before Ma was inaugurated.

Taking the example of the computer virus, Wang said that Ma’s campaign office did receive some strange e-mails, but it was common for any computer user to have his or her computer attacked by viruses.

He said they suspected the viruses came from their rival camp, but that they did not have evidence. They haven’t had the problem since Ma took office, he said.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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