Pro-independence New Taiwan Weekly magazine news desk director Chen Tsung-yi (陳宗逸) has accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of intimidating him because of his political ideology.
“On [Wednesday] morning, four men who identified themselves as agents from the Investigation Bureau’s Taipei City branch searched my residence in Taoyuan in relation to a corruption case after identifying themselves and showing a search warrant,” Chen said in an e-mail on Wednesday.
The agents prevented Chen from taking pictures as they searched, and he engaged in a verbal dispute with them.
“An agent who appeared to be the leader told me that I could be charged for interfering with official duties and asked me to delete all the pictures that I took,” Chen wrote. “I didn’t know much about the law, so I deleted the pictures.”
During the search, Chen said the agents talked on the telephone with what seemed to be two superiors and mentioned the US-based pro-Taiwan group Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA).
“I asked them what FAPA — an overseas civic organization that promotes Taiwan independence — had to do with a corruption case. The leader said he could not reveal details about the investigation and that promoting Taiwan independence was not an issue since the nation is a democracy,” Chen said in the e-mail.
He added that the lead agent continued to ask about FAPA and another US-based pro-independence organization, the North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association.
“Suddenly I realized that the purge by prosecutors and the Investigation Bureau is now looking at overseas pro-independence groups and I was searched because my uncle has long served as FAPA chairman and executive director — in other words, I think this [search] was a warning to me,” Chen wrote.
“My mother was frightened — she has worried that I will be arrested since I was in junior high school. After 20 years of the democratization of Taiwan, my mother’s nightmare may come true. I believe the curtain has just been raised and it’s time to fight,” he wrote.
The e-mail is widely available and posted on several online forums.
When contacted by the Taipei Times via telephone yesterday, Chen confirmed the incident, but declined to comment further.
Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) criticized the agents for not allowing Chen to take pictures and not revealing the details of the case against him.
“I wouldn’t say [the agents] have violated the law, since the law only says that the person involved must be present during a search and they could argue that [Chen] should not take pictures to avoid a leak of details about the investigation,” Lin said. “However, the law doesn’t prohibit taking pictures either. If you’re conducting a search at my place, why can’t I take pictures or be told details about the case in which I’m suspected to be involved?”
A spokesman for the Investigation Bureau’s Taipei City branch, Huang Yu-chu (黃郁初), declined to comment yesterday, saying that he knew nothing about the case.
Meanwhile, political columnist Paul Lin (林保華) penned an article in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Wednesday in which he said police from his local precinct had come to his house for no reason.
Paul Lin said he suspected the visit had something to do with recent articles he has written on police abusing their power and disregarding human rights.
In response, police said they were on a routine household visit and that it had nothing to do with Paul Lin’s background or his political opinions. They said they were willing to talk with Paul Lin if any misunderstanding had been caused by the timing of the visit and were willing to explain their procedures for household visits.
In Paul Lin’s article, he states that he is originally from Hong Kong and became a Taiwanese citizen years ago, but the police asked him to fill in a document for “people from mainland China.” Paul Lin said he was not at home at the time and his wife informed him of the visit by phone.
Paul Lin said he believes the visit may also have been connected to his presence in court last week, where he sat in on the trial of former Songshan Precinct chief Huang Jia-lu (黃嘉祿) for infringing freedoms, and that police used the visit to warn Paul Lin that they could label him a person from China to control him.
Reached for comment, staff at Taipei City’s Wanhua Precinct said Lin recently moved from Zhongshan District (中山) to Wanhua District (萬華) and that it was a routine household visit, which had started in the area last month.
The police said they had visited every household in the building in which Paul Lin lives and had only asked Lin to fill in basic information, such as his profession and the members of his family who lived there.
The police denied they asked him to fill in any document to do with “people from mainland China” and that they did not ask Paul Lin’s wife to give such information.
Paul Lin’s article mentioned in the story will be published on page 8 in tomorrow’s Taipei Times.
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