Fri, Aug 08, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Spy case puts government in damage-control mode

AFP , TAIPEI

Authorities have taken comprehensive damage-control measures after uncovering an alleged Chinese spy ring which might have jeopardized the nation's security, it was reported yesterday.

Ke Cheng-en (柯承亨), deputy secretary general of the National Security Council, is in charge of damage control, the China Times said, adding Washington had been briefed on the high-profile espionage case.

The defense ministry declined to comment on the report in which the paper cited an unnamed military officer describing the ministry's handling of the case as "helter skelter."

The paper said it was unclear how much information has been accessible to Beijing but investigators feared it might be worse than initially thought.

It said they feared classified details of the country's surface-to-air Tien Kung (Sky Bow) missile and air-to-air Tien Chien (Sky Sword) missile projects had been leaked.

The Investigation Bureau admitted in a statement Wednesday that the nation's security and military capabilities had been seriously damaged by the alleged spy ring.

Authorities on Wednesday announced that they had arrested two local men and a Taiwanese-American for allegedly spying for China.

The trio included 54-year-old technology firm boss Yeh Yu-chen (葉裕鎮) and Chen Shih-liang (陳士良), 53, a technician at the military-run Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the Investigation Bureau said in a statement.

The third suspect was named as Taiwanese-American Howard Hsu (許希哲), 57, a retired Boeing engineer residing in Seattle.

Among the highly classified information Yeh gave to China since 2001 was Taiwan's controversial plan to develop a Theater Missile Defense project in cooperation with the US, local media reported Wednesday.

They said the ring might have also leaked the country's anti-submarine military deployment and its plan to purchase P-3C anti-submarine aircraft from the US.

The Investigation Bureau said Hsu had hacked a classified US government database and gathered information on Taiwan-US military projects including communication systems and night combat equipment for F-16 fighter jets.

In addition, Yeh provided Hsu with forged identification to purchase strategic high-tech contraband products in the US, which Yeh later delivered to China after they were mailed or brought personally to Taiwan by Hsu.

Officials said the trio could face treason charges that would lead to imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Washington has been the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite its switching of diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

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