Taiwan Accuses Former Political Aides of Leaking Sensitive Information to China

August 13, 2020 Updated: August 13, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan—Local authorities announced two criminal cases involving Taiwanese citizens who allegedly tried to provide the Chinese regime with Taiwan government’s sensitive information.

The Taipei prosecutor’s office charged three former aides to local lawmakers for violating the island’s national security law on Aug. 13, according to Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency (CNA).

They were indicted for developing a spy network in Taiwan between 2012 and 2016, during which they allegedly accepted money from China and passed on government information.

The three former aides—Chen Wei-jen, Lee Yi-hsien, and Lin Yun-ta—were taken into custody in June on suspicion of being Chinese spies. On Thursday, Lin was released after posting  NT$100,000 (about $3,400) bail, while Chen and Lee were not granted bail. They are being held incommunicado.

According to prosecutors, Chen and Lin traveled to Macau in 2012 and were recruited by a Chinese official who went by the name Huang Guanlong, a Chinese intelligence officer at China’s chief intelligence agency, Ministry of State Security.

Upon their return to Taiwan, Chen and Lin successfully recruited Lee and together, they began developing the spy network in Taiwan.

Prosecutors found that in 2015, Huang instructed Chen to recruit employees of the local Kuomintang (KMT) political party in order to obtain secret information. A KMT aide surnamed Chan was recruited and he ended up supplying documents on the party’s internal meetings on cross-strait relations.

In 2016, Huang ordered Chen and his group to target individuals who could supply information about Taiwan’s National Police Agency. Lin then attempted to recruit a magazine reporter, hoping the reporter could provide police internal documents on local activities organized by groups considered anti-Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These activities included those held by local adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice also known as Falun Dafa, according to prosecutors.

Since 1999, the Chinese regime has heavily suppressed Falun Gong adherents, who are often rounded up, detained, and tortured. In Taiwan, local practitioners regularly hold events to raise awareness about the persecution in mainland China.

According to CNA, the magazine reporter was never successfully recruited and he did not travel to China to meet with Huang.

In 2017, Huang instructed Chen to recruit individuals in order to supply China information on Taiwan’s border entry and exit data, as well as the island’s national health insurance program.

In response, Chen and Lee attempted to recruit a tech expert surnamed Huang (not related to the Chinese intelligence officer), asking the expert to hack into the insurance program database in exchange for money. Chen and Lee specifically wanted Huang to obtain the medical records of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who is of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). According to the CNA report, Huang turned down the offer.

In 2018, Chen and Lee attempted to recruit a police officer surnamed Peng, who was also a bodyguard for Ker Chien-ming, a DPP lawmaker. Chen and Lee wanted Peng to go into Ker’s office and steal DDP internal documents regarding presidential elections. According to the CNA report, Peng did not agree to their offer.

According to local newspaper Liberty Times, prosecutors also found that the three defendants went to great lengths to become acquainted with executives and reporters working for pro-Beijing media in Taiwan, as well as public servants who lean pro-Beijing. The three took them out for food in exchange for sensitive information, while hinting that they could be offered free trips to China or job stipends.

The second criminal case involved a Taiwanese army intelligence officer, surnamed You with the military rank of lieutenant colonel, who illegally used a cellphone to videotape a Taiwan military exercise in July, according to a CNA report.

You then sent the cellphone to a friend in Kinmen, one of Taiwan’s outlying islands near China, in an attempt to sell what he had videotaped to China. The cellphone was intercepted by Taiwanese officials before it could be sold and You was subsequently arrested on July 20.

You is currently being held at a prison in Kinmen while waiting to be prosecuted.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, in a press release about You’s case, said that it will continue to tighten its control on sensitive information and personnel assessment to safeguard Taiwan’s national security, in the face of infiltration threats posed by the CCP.

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