The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) on charges of leaking classified information in violation of the Criminal Code and the Communication Security and Surveillance Act (通訊保障及監察法).
Huang, the first top prosecutor to be indicted on criminal charges in Taiwan, responded by saying that he will resign if he is convicted of leaking secrets, a charge he has denied.
The offense of leaking confidential information carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and the same sentence applies to violations of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act.
The indictment said Huang broke the law when he briefed President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Aug. 31 about tapped telephone conversations indicating that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in late June allegedly lobbied then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) and Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office head prosecutor Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) to prevent Taiwan High Prosecutor’s Office prosecutor Lin Shiow-tao (林秀濤) from seeking an appeal against Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) breach of trust case.
It was not until Sept. 5 that the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, which reports to Huang, concluded its investigation and decided not to press any criminal charges against Wang or Ker, the indictment said.
Huang said he broke no law, as he reported to the president only after having decided that Wang’s actions were not illegal, but merely contravened administrative procedure.
However, the indictment said that the report given to Ma by Huang indicated that, in the prosecutor-general’s view, the case was criminal in nature and that the investigation was ongoing. Therefore, he was forbidden by the Criminal Code to brief anyone on the case.
As the information on Wang’s actions was obtained from the wiretapping of Ker’s cellphone, Huang also broke the law when he briefed the president, the indictment said.
Huang’s report to Ma was handed over to the prosecution on Oct. 3, when the president answered the prosecution’s questions as a witness in an investigation into Huang’s actions.
In the report, Huang wrote about the possibility of conducting searches and summoning Wang, Ker and others for questioning, according to the indictment.
The indictment also disputed the prosecutor-general’s claim that in briefing the president, he was seeking intervention in an issue that involved different branches of government. If there had been a need for such an intervention, Huang should have spoken to Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) rather than the president, the indictment said.
Huang yesterday responded through a statement that he felt deep regret that the prosecutors’ office has chosen to levy criminal charges against him.
Insisting on his innocence, Huang said he is confident that he did not break any law when he briefed the president on the influence peddling case.
“This is evident in my Oct. 3 statement issued after I answered district prosecutors’ questions about the case,” Huang said in the statement, adding that he hopes the district court will clear his name as soon as possible.
In his Oct. 3 statement, Huang said that all he did was lift the veil on the darkest, ugliest part of the country’s judicial system, referring to Wang’s alleged abuse of his influence to stop a court case.
Meanwhile, as part of the case, two prosecutors working for the SID were cleared by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office of any wrongdoing.
The office said it found that they had asked for a wiretap on one of the Legislative Yuan’s phone lines by mistake, thinking it was a number used by one of Ker’s assistants.