In response to a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists, raising concerns about the prosecutors' raid of Next magazine, the Presidential Office released a statement yesterday.
President Chen Sui-bian (陳水扁) reiterated that the essence of democracy should never be quelled under the pretext of national security, nor should the flag of national security be used as a cover for undermining freedom of press.
"As an activist for democratic reform, I became a prisoner of conscience in 1984 after publishing a magazine. Hence, I share your conviction that freedom of speech is an unequivocal, indispensable human right, as do I share your concern over the controversy related to freedom of press and national security in Taiwan," Chen said in the press release.
Chen said that as a democratically elected president, it is his duty to listen carefully to what the media has to say. There is no question that freedom of speech is a cornerstone of progress in Taiwan society, Chen said.
"This point notwithstanding, I think it important to assert -- and I trust any journalist of caliber will agree -- that freedom of the press ought to be self-regulated by a code of ethics and justice. Only by keeping public interests, national interests and commercial interests in equilibrium can the welfare of all the people in a democratic society be served without jeopardizing vital national intelligence work," Chen said in the press release.
"In the delicate balance between national security and press freedom the protection of one should not compromise -- nor be compromised in lieu of -- the other," Chen continued in the release.
"Our resolve is unwavering as we work to disencumber our government infrastructure from the problems we have inherited from the past, and, to begin to fill the voids by building legal intelligence oversight mechanisms based on the principles of democracy," Chen said.