The Presidential Office yesterday said that two foreign newspapers that reported President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had admitted lying to prosecutors about the alleged misuse of the "state affairs fund" might have misinterpreted his words.
"The President did not lie to prosecutors," said Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (
Lee made the remarks in response to reports published recently in both the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald.
With a headline that read "Taiwan's Leader Admits Lies, but Says He Won't Step Down" dated Nov. 6, the New York Times said Chen admitted on Sunday that he "submitted false receipts for reimbursement from public funds and lied to prosecutors about how he spent the money, but said he had done so in the interest of national security."
The Sydney Morning Herald, in an article dated Nov. 7, also reported that Chen "admitted lying and submitting false receipts for reimbursement from public funds."
Lee said Chen opted to withhold the information about a secret agent, "Person A," during the prosecutor's questioning, which may have led to the misunderstanding.
Somebody might have lied about the secret diplomatic projects in the process, but that person was not Chen, Lee said.
Chen said on Sunday in a televised press conference that "somebody has lied about the secret jobs conducted by `Person A.'
"No matter whether it was a malicious lie or a white lie, I think an apology is necessary. However, if the white lie was made to protect secret diplomatic projects, can we consider it as an excusable error?" he said.
Chen said that he "was willing to apologize for making incoherent statements during the questioning but that they were made in the interest of national security."
He said that he "did not dare to say or think it was a better idea to withhold the information," but it might have caused the prosecutors to misunderstand him.