Sat, Mar 23, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutors charge `China Times' chief

SECRET FUNDS Huang Ching-lung is being held accountable for the story on NSB accounts that appeared in his publication, because the paper did not state who wrote the article

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

TSU lawmakers Huang Cheng-che, left, Lo Chih-ming, second left, Liao Pen-yen, second right, and Huang Tsung-yuan yesterday held a joint press conference, accusing PFP Chairman James Soong of being responsible for the disclosure of two secret NSB accounts -- established during former president Lee Teng-hui's tenure.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan High Court Prosecutors' Office (台灣高檢署) yesterday decided to charge Huang Ching-lung (黃清龍), the editor-in-chief of the China Times, with breaching national security for printing stories about two secret funds of the National Security Bureau (NSB), worth more than NT$3.5 billion. The articles appeared on the newspaper's front page as well as on its second and third pages on Wednesday.

Hsieh Zhong-liang (謝忠良), a senior reporter from Next magaz-ine, was also charged for the same violation on Thursday. The pros-ecutors' office ordered Hsieh to answer questioning next Thursday about who tipped him off about the NSB's two secret accounts.

The magazine announced that it will appeal the decision on Monday.

Pei Wei (裴偉), executive editor of Next, insisted that the magazine's story has nothing to do with national security.

"What we did was to report a scandal, corruption in the NSB which everybody should know about," Pei said.

"Of course, we know the importance of national security and we would not touch that issue either."

Both the magazine and the newspaper printed roughly the same story. The difference was that Next ran the story under Hsieh's name, while the China Times did not print the reporter's byline. As a result, Prosecutor Chen Uen-li (陳文禮) decided to charge the newspaper's editor in chief.

At press time, Huang still had not received any notice of his being charged by the prosecutors and he refused to make any statements.

In the meantime, Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) yesterday said that the raid on Next magazine's offices was aimed at collecting evidence, not confiscating the magazine itself. He said that prosecutors will also search the NSB for evidence, if necessary.

While attending a regular legislative meeting at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, KMT lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) asked Chen whether it was really necessary for the prosecutors to crack down on the magazine. Hung also asked if prosecutors would dare to search NSB offices. Chen said that prosecutors were just doing their duty -- to investigate any case that could endanger national security -- and they will do the same in the NSB case if necessary.

Hung also asked Chen whether the prosecutors' raid on the magazine might have violated press freedom. Chen replied that the pro-secutors were just trying to collect evidence about the leaking of classified information -- and that it had nothing to do with violating press freedom, according to Chen.

"Press freedom is important," Chen said. "But national security weighs more."

"Well, in fact," he added, "we had searched the NSB office in Yanmingshan for information in the earlier case of former colonel Liu Kuan-chun (劉冠軍)."

"Therefore I can say there is no question about whether we would `dare' to do it or not. If the NSB violates the Criminal Code, prosecutors will administer the necessary searches, arrests or detentions of their officials, without exception."

Liu was the NSB's former chief cashier and is wanted by authorities for allegedly embezzling NT$192 million.

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