Sat, Apr 05, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ministry denies spying on students protesting abroad

CONSPIRACY?The reports were untrue and the director-general said that he would call representative European offices to get to the bottom of the story, the ministry said

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denied that its overseas missions have tried to gather information about international students who participated in rallies supporting the Sunflower movement.

A post at 11:20pm on Thursday on Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board — written by a netizen named “sleepingbaby” had made the allegation.

“It is far from the truth,” ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said of the accusation, adding that the ministry and its overseas missions have complied with the principle of administrative integrity.

The post, made from the Netherlands, alleged that the author’s friends received a call from the nation’s representative office and were asked to provide a list of students who had participated in recent rallies related to the cross-strait pact.

The author said they have heard that representative offices in the Netherlands and the UK asked for information about such students.

“They treat people who oppose the cross-strait service trade agreement as the enemy,” the author said.

A netizen named “toast520520” wrote: “The same here in Japan.”

“Some students in the UK, Australia and New York said they were asked [by representative offices] for a talk,” a netizen named “bluefly24” said.

Netizen “milka” and some others wrote that friends in France were approached by representative office officials and questioned over rallies against the trade pact.

Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), director-general of European affairs at the ministry, dismissed the posts as rumor and said that he would contact representative offices in the Netherlands and other European countries to clarify the situation.

Late last night, representative to the Netherlands James Lee (李光章) said by telephone: “There was no such thing.”

“Whoever made the accusation should back up their claims with evidence, before spreading irresponsible rumors” he said.

Lee said the office contacted a student after it learned that students planned to stage a rally to remind them of local assembly rules before the rally took place and that the student made a call to the office afterwards to express thanks.

Timed to coincide with the mass demonstration in Taipei on Sunday last week, more than 49 cities across 21 countries organized “24-Hour Relay Across the Globe in Support of Taiwan” rallies to support the Sunflower movement.

Separately, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is scheduled to hold a video conference with US academics and politicians organized by Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), on Wednesday, the ministry said.

Ma will give a keynote address on the US-Taiwan partnership and Taipei’s role in regional security and the economy and will open up to questions, the ministry said.

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