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South Korea warns of ‘fabrications’ in Pentagon leaks

The classified docs appear to show that the US spied on a key ally in East Asia

Several high-ranking South Korean officials have claimed that a trove of leaked Pentagon documents allegedly detailing US eavesdropping on Seoul looks like a hoax.  

Dozens of sensitive American documents, which have been circulating on social media for at least several weeks, but attracted public attention only recently, outline Washington’s purported efforts to spy on its international partners, including South Korea, its key ally in the region.

The explosive files provide details on internal discussions among high-ranking South Korean officials, who allegedly voiced concerns that the ammunition Seoul sold to the US could eventually be sent to Ukraine instead, violating South Korea’s policy of not supplying lethal aid to countries in conflict. 

On Wednesday, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said that the specific document in question appeared to have been fabricated, adding that Washington “is trying to get to the truth, and if it does, South Korea and the US will share the information.”

His comments largely echo previous statements by Seoul’s officials. On Tuesday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin agreed that a “significant number of the relevant documents had been forged,” according to the statement released by Seoul’s presidential office. However, it did not clarify whether the ministers were referring to the package as a whole, or only to documents related to South Korea.

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Seoul also claimed that any speculation about possible US spying on the presidential office is “absurd and false,” pointing to “watertight security” at the compound. 

However, the South Korean opposition struck a different tone. Lee Jae-myung, who heads the main opposition Democratic Party, claimed that if it turns out that the US spied on Seoul, it would be “a very disappointing act that undermines the South Korea-US alliance… based on mutual trust.” Should the information in the documents be confirmed, Washington would owe an apology to the South Korean people, he added.

April 13, 2023 at 01:38AM

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