Tue, Mar 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Bill seeks tougher sentence for leaking national secrets

CHINESE THREAT:Penalties must be increased to further deter serving or retired intelligence officers from betraying the nation, DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng said

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) yesterday said that 15 lawmakers have co-signed his proposal to lengthen the prison terms of incumbent or retired National Security Bureau (NSB) officers found guilty of leaking state secrets.

The proposed amendments to the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) would increase by half the sentences of NSB intelligence officers and other personnel convicted of leaking national secrets either during their active service or within a year of their retirement, he said.

At present, the act stipulates a prison sentence of three to 10 years for handing secrets to a foreign power, and one to 12 years for secretly collecting information on behalf of a foreign power, he said.

Those penalties must be stepped up to increase their deterrence value, in light of the mounting threat of China-directed foreign espionage activity in Taiwan, especially those aiming to compromise the bureau, he said.

Enhanced sentencing is justified by the fact that bureau officials and support staff have access to secret information that far exceeds that of the general public and by their confidentiality clause, which remains applicable after retirement, he said.

To protect the bureau from infiltration by compromised recruits, the proposed amendments would require mandatory security assessments of candidates immediately after the completion of the initial qualification examination, he said

The practice of vetting candidates after they have completed training is a potential vulnerability that hostile powers could exploit to gain insight into the bureau’s operational methods and procedures, he said.

Moreover, eliminating candidates after they have completed their training is a waste of resources and such decisions are routinely contested by candidates in court, giving rise to unnecessary legal expenses, he said.

Security vetting is conducted to ensure that intelligence officers’ loyalty and integrity are untainted by enemy measures and that they are above allowing personal factors to influence the conduct of intelligence operations, he said.

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