Fri, Jan 16, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Two detained in espionage case

‘STAY ALERT’A staffer in the Presidential Office’s Department of Special Affairs and a friend were taken into custody on suspicion of handing classified documents to China

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) yesterday called on the government to conduct a “thorough national security check” on Presidential Office staffers after one was taken into custody on Wednesday night for allegedly spying for China.

Wang Ren-bing (王仁炳), a senior specialist at the Presidential Office’s Department of Special Affairs, was taken from the Presidential Office on Wednesday afternoon after a group of investigators with a search warrant conducted a search of Wang’s office.

Wang is suspected of handing classified Presidential Office documents between March and April last year to his friend Chen Pin-jen (陳品仁), who allegedly gave them to Chinese intelligence officers. Chen was also questioned.

Wang and Chen’s residences were also searched on Wednesday.

Commenting on the suspected espionage case, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), head of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, yesterday said it suggested both sides of the Taiwan Strait were still spying on each other despite warmer cross-strait relations.

“We need to stay alert, but we should not overreact and turn the case into political wrangling,” Lin said.

Earlier yesterday, the Taipei District Court approved a request by prosecutors to take Wang and Chen into custody.

Taipei District Court Spokesman Huang Chun-ming (黃俊明) said the pair was suspected of violating the National Security Act (國家安全法) and their detention was intended to prevent them from colluding with each other to give false statements.

Although both denied the allegation, their respective statements were contradictory, Huang said.

At a separate setting yesterday, the Presidential Office said the detention of Wang was purely a legal case and was not political.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the Presidential Office’s position is clear: It respects the judiciary and will cooperate fully with the investigation.

“There is no political consideration whatsoever,” he said in response to a media inquiry about whether the case would have any impact on cross-strait relations.

Wang Yu-chi said Wang Ren-bing was suspected of leaking documents concerning the handover of power to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) from former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) last spring.

Wang Yu-chi yesterday said he did not know if other staff members leaked information, but he believed the national security agencies would have first-hand information.

Wang Yu-chi said the Presidential Office would take no further action until prosecutors complete their investigation. If Wang Ren-bing turned out to be the source of the problem, the spokesman said, it would be easier to handle.

What they can do now is to conduct an overall examination of the management of the filing system and regular monitoring of the moral conduct of new staff members. They will also mete out harsh punishments to anyone who leaks information, the spokesman said.

Wang Yu-chi gave the assurance that Ma’s personal safety was secure, adding that Ma was informed of the matter a few days before the search and his immediate instruction was to respect the judiciary and fully cooperate with the investigation.

Wang Ren-bing began working at the Presidential Office in 2001 in the office of then deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男). After Chen Che-nan’s departure, Wang Ren-bing continued to work at the same office.

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