Ma's phone 'unlikely' target of NSA taps: NSB
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- It is unlikely that security agencies from the United States are monitoring the phone calls of President Ma Ying-jeou because Taiwan is friendly toward the U.S. government, Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB) chief said yesterday.
October 29, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
“I would not say with absolute certainty that the U.S. will not spy on President Ma's phone calls, but I would say it is unlikely the country would do so,” said NSB Director-general Tsai De-sheng (蔡得勝) yesterday at the Legislative Yuan in response to lawmakers' questions on the issue.
Washington considers Taipei friendly and would not put the country atop a list of spying targets, Tsai noted.
He added that the phones Ma uses are secure ones provided by the NSB and cannot be easily tapped by other countries.
Tsai, however, said that China is still the biggest threat to Taiwan in terms of eavesdropping, as the NSB believes Beijing has been “extensively” wiretapping Taiwan's phone calls for years.
Tsai made the comments yesterday amid foreign media reports that America's National Security Agency (NSA) has been accused of listening in on phone calls of 35 world leaders, including those of longtime U.S. allies such as Germany and France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francios Hollande both demanded talks with the U.S. by year-end amid allegations that they were spied on by the NSA, foreign media reports said.
Shoe-throwing 'Acts of Violence': Tsai
Meanwhile, Tsai said yesterday that the NSB did not receive instructions from Ma to refrain from deploying nets designed to catch shoes thrown by demonstrators.
Recent reports suggested that Ma did not think highly of the shoe-catching nets that were deployed at his every public engagement, and had ordered their removal.
Asked to comment, Tsai said yesterday that the shoe-catching nets are deployed by local law enforcement officers and security forces for the safety of the president.
The NSB respects the decision of local law enforcement authorities to make use of such nets to assist police in providing crowd control and protection details for the head of state in his public engagements, he said.
The NSB chief further condemned the shoe-tossing by protestors, saying that such behavior is an “act of violence” and should be stopped.
“Today the protestors throw shoes, tomorrow they may put bricks or explosives or chemicals inside the shoes,” he noted, adding that such behavior could pose a serious threat to Ma's safety.