Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Reporter questioned over notes from Lee interrogation

STAFF WRITER

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office yesterday listed a reporter as a defendant in a case of theft, trespassing and unauthorized disclosure of secrets, in connection with stories about former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) questioning by prosecutors last week.

The prosecutors' office announced the decision several hours after Kao Nien-yi (高年億), a reporter with the United Daily News, had been summoned for questioning.

Kao caused an uproar last week by producing handwritten notes he said he had obtained from the room in which Lee had been questioned regarding the Chung Hsing Bills Finance scandal, which centers around People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

On Thursday, the United Daily News published a photo of the notes and said that they had been written by Lee.

Much of the Chinese-language media, including a number of TV channels, reported the claim.

After the handwriting turned out to be different from Lee's, some in the media hinted that prosecutors might have helped Lee by preparing notes and prompting him during the interrogation.

The prosecutors' office denied the allegations, saying that the notes were taken by Meng Ling-shih (孟令士), one of the prosecutors present during the questioning, when Lee made some additions to his testimony near the end of the questioning.

The stories about the notes touched off a war of words between the prosecutors and the United Daily News.

Prosecutors accused Kao of entering the room without permission and stealing the notes.

Kao initially claimed that Prosecutor Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達) took him into the room -- something Chen has denied.

Kao retracted his claim yesterday and issued an "courtesy apology," which he said was not an apology for a mistake. He did not, however, explain how he obtained the notes.

According to the Criminal Code, an interrogation held by prosecutors is always held behind closed doors and only the summoned person and his legal representative are allowed into the room.

In related news, Lee slammed the media yesterday, saying that he agreed with remarks made by Chen that the media is facing a "crisis of conscience." Chen had strongly criticized media coverage of Lee's responding to prosecutors' summons and his interrogation.

The Chung Hsing Bills case involves accusations that Soong embezzled millions of NT dollars from the Chinese Nationalist Party during his tenure as secretary-general of the party.

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