Seoul not to react to alleged U.S. bugging of its embassy until confirming facts: official

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will have to gather more information before releasing any official response to a report that the United States bugged its embassy in Washington, a South Korean official said Monday.

"We need to confirm the facts involved because it is not appropriate for us to judge things based on news articles alone," the official at the Foreign Ministry said, requesting anonymity.

The Guardian newspaper reported Monday that South Korea is among 38 countries eavesdropped on by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States, citing revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Among the U.S. allies allegedly wiretapped are Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Greece. Britain, Australia and Canada were not on the list.

Speaking to an Asian security forum in Brunei Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended Washington's alleged surveillance of diplomats from its allies, although he said he needed to "have all of the facts and find out precisely what the situation is."

"Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security, and all kinds of information contributes to that," he said. "All I know is that that is not unusual for lots of nations."

Another South Korean official dismissed the Guardian report as a "kind of revelation which is not clear in contents."

Amid anger voiced by Germany and other European countries over Washington's alleged wiretapping of its allies, some say it is a "known secret" that governments conduct surveillance of diplomats of foreign countries.

On leaked intelligence, there is a "tacit understanding" among diplomats of "don't ask, don't tell," the official said, "That's because any country engages in that kind of activity."

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