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South Korean prosecutors have recruited the U.S. Attorney in Miami to help investigate allegations that the East Asian nation’s intelligence agency spied on opposition political leaders and senior media executives by illegally intercepting their mobile phone conversations. The Korean investigators haven’t established that the technology exists to eavesdrop on the kind of encrypted cellular transmissions used in Korea. But documents filed in U.S. District Court in Miami last month show that they suspect it does, and that an American security company with operations in Miami may have peddled such high-tech snooping equipment in Korea. “Has Communication Control Systems International [CCS] sold the CDMA cellular interceptor to [a] governmental agency or a citizen of Republic of Korea?” Senior Prosecutor Joon Hyo Park asked in his formal request for U.S. assistance last month. “If it has sold or made contact for sale, what is the breakdown of the sale?” CDMA is short for code division multiple access, a digital cellular technology now in use around the world. CCS International, headquartered in New Rochelle, N.Y., manufactures and sells high-tech security devices, including cellular intercept technology through its Irish affiliate, G-COM Technologies, according to company spokeswoman Arielle Jamil. She declined to identify the company’s clients, but said CCS only sells such regulated high technology to U.S.-approved governments. CCS also sells less high-tech devices at its retail CounterSpy Shops, including one in downtown Miami. Federal law regulates what wiretapping and intercepting equipment can be exported and to what countries. Details about the criminal investigation under way in Seoul are contained in court papers filed last month by U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez’s office invoking a mutual aid treaty and asking that Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Korver be appointed a “commissioner” to collect evidence. U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold approved the request in January. South Korea’s request for U.S. assistance is dated more than a year ago, Jan. 30, 2003. Neither Korver nor a Jimenez spokesman, Matthew Dates, would comment. South Korea’s honorary consul general for Florida, Miami attorney Burton Landy, said he was unaware of the U.S. Attorney’s involvement in the matter. Landy is a shareholder at Akerman Senterfitt. A spokesman for the Embassy of South Korea in Washington, Soo Dong O, did not respond to several requests for comment. Jamil, daughter of CCS founder and chief executive Ben Jamil, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet contacted CCS. She also said she found it odd that the Korean prosecutors have professed a lack of knowledge about the existence of cellular intercept technology. “This has been around for 10 years. To say that, they are ignorant or really playing stupid,” she said. CCS vice president Menahem Cohen said that devices to intercept CDMA cellular transmissions exist, but that CCS does not manufacture or sell such products. He also said South Korea is not a CCS client. CCS and its principals have been in business for about 40 years. In 2002, the company went public as a subsidiary of Security Intelligence Technologies Inc. (OTCBB: SITG). SITG was formerly known as Hipstyle.com, which Cohen said was a Miami shell company. On Jan. 30, the company incorporated Miami-based Homeland Security Strategies of Florida Inc. Cohen said that subsidiary will eventually be the company’s biggest operation, handling all government sales. Korean opposition lawmaker Young Il Kim first accused the National Intelligence Service, South Korea’s spy agency, of intercepting the cell calls of “major politicians and senior officials of press companies of Korea” at a Nov. 28 press conference, South Korean prosecutor Park told American authorities. Three days later, another Grand National Party lawmaker, Bu Young Lee, showed reporters a document titled “Data on Interception by NIS” and accused NIS Director Kuhn Shin with violating Korea’s Electric Communications Privacy Protection Act. The source of the document was not identified in the court papers. The accusations were made in the heat of South Korea’s 2002 presidential election, which was won by Roh Moo-hyun of the Millennium Democratic Party. Top officials of the National Intelligence Service quickly denied the GNP’s accusations of criminal eavesdropping, asserting that “it is technically impossible to intercept” mobile phone transmissions. The NIS also accused Kim and Lee of defamation, according to the request from Park. South Korean prosecutors have not filed charges. South Korean prosecutors opened their criminal probe on Dec. 6, 2002. Former NIS Director Shin is the target of the investigation, according to the court papers filed in Miami last month. CCS International came to the attention of Korean prosecutors following a series of stories published in Korean newspapers about the eavesdropping scandal. The Chosun Daily News quoted CCS export manager Robert Lewis as saying CCS “possesses technology to intercept CDMA mobile phone calls.” Another paper, Weekly Chosun, reported the April 2002 felony arrests by U.S. Customs Service agents of a trio of CCS employees — including Menahem Cohen — at Miami International Airport as they allegedly attempted to export components of a G-Com 2065 cell phone intercept device to Bogota, Colombia. The G-Com 2065 — the device the Korean prosecutor’s office is now focused on — is capable of decrypting, monitoring and storing eight cellular telephone conversations simultaneously, according to a press release issued by then Miami U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis. CCS Miami operations manager Cesar Gonzolo Cordova sought to broker the sale of a G-Com 2065 to buyers the U.S. Attorney’s Office described in the press release as “a cooperating government witness and Colombian nationals.” Cohen, Cordova and the third CCS employee, Boris Zubatyy, were charged with the possession, sale and attempted export of telecommunication interception equipment. But the prosecutors dropped the charges against the three men in September 2002 after concluding that the three men didn’t violate U.S. laws that regulate the exportation of eavesdropping technology, said Zubatyy’s attorney Martin R. Raskin, a partner at Miami’s Raskin & Raskin of Miami. Korean reporters, apparently looking to verify claims by NIS leaders that it was impossible to intercept CDMA cell phone calls, contacted CCS for information and spoke with Robert Lewis, who was identified as an export manager. Lewis was quoted in Korean news reports as saying that such intercept technology existed, and specifically mentioned the G-Com 2065. The Korean prosecutor’s office reported finding no “conclusive evidence” that such technology exists. So they decided to “verify the accuracy” of the newspaper stories by checking with the Justice Department and asking Jimenez’s office to take “testimony” from Lewis. CCS executive Cohen described Lewis as a CCS “consultant” who no longer works with CCS. Cohen said South Korean prosecutors are on a fishing expedition that’s not going anywhere. He said the G-Com 2065, which his company sells but does not manufacture, is incompatible with the cellular technology used in South Korea. “The 2065 wouldn’t work in Korea because it is a TDMA, not a CDMA,” he said. TDMA stands for time division multiple access, a narrowband technology used by the competing GSM, or global system for mobile communications digital cellular system.

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