Asia-Pacific

South Korea to probe Indonesia 'spy break-in' reports

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, second from right, with chief Indonesian delegate Hatta Rajasa, Seoul, South Korea, 16 Feb 2011
Image caption Indonesia's Hatta Rajasa was in Seoul, meeting President Lee Myung-bak, to discuss an arms deal

South Korea says it will investigate allegations that its spies broke into the hotel room of a visiting Indonesian delegation member to access information on a possible arms deal.

South Korean media reported that three people were found accessing files on a computer belonging to a delegation member.

The reports identified them as National Intelligence Service (NIS) staff.

The NIS denied the reports, but an official said a probe was underway.

"Indonesia asked us to verify the exact facts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae told journalists during a press briefing.

"We are verifying the facts, and we agreed to inform them as soon as we are done."

'Negotiating strategy'

The 50-strong Indonesian delegation was in Seoul last week for three days to discuss trade and military deals.

Indonesia is considering buying T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets from South Korea.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper said that two men and a woman were found looking at a computer belonging to an aide of Indonesian Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa in a room at the Lotte hotel on Wednesday.

It said they left after being disturbed by a delegate.

The alleged agents "were trying to figure out the Indonesian delegation's negotiating strategies", the paper quoted a senior official in Seoul as saying.

The Hankyoreh newspaper carried a similar report.

An unidentified NIS official told Yonhap news agency his organisation "strongly" denied the report.

An Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed the break-in, but told Reuters news agency the laptop did not belong to a high-ranking official.

And the Jakarta Post on Monday quoted Mr Hatta as saying that it was a misunderstanding involving hotel guests entering the wrong room which was quickly cleared up.