Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Author pans NSB over his rights

SPY VERSUS SPY The National Security Bureau said it took legal action against Hsiao Tai-fu because he had been advised not to publish when he sent a draft copy for review

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hsiao Tai-fu (蕭台福), a retired deputy section director at the National Security Bureau (NSB) who has been charged by Taipei prosecutors with violating the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法), yesterday accused the NSB of infringing upon his constitutional right to publish.

Hsiao, who was released yesterday after having been detained since late Wednesday night, told a press conference that he had been very cautious not to include any confidential information or cite any confidential documentation when writing his book, Thirty Years as an Intelligence Agent.

"This [book] has absolutely nothing to do with leaking national security secrets," Hsiao said. "Throughout the entire book, I do not mention any information regarding cooperation on intelligence between the Republic of China and any other country."

Hsiao said he had also adhered to his principles and not touched on any case he had personally dealt with, adding that all the cases mentioned in the book were the subject of documents or publications in the public domain.

The Taipei Prosecutors Office and NSB personnel seized about 1,000 copies of the book, which only recently hit the shelves, after searching Taiwan Elite Press, the publisher of the book, the distributors and Hsiao's home on Wednesday morning.

Taipei prosecutors sought to detain Hsiao yesterday morning after he was unable to pay his NT$500,000 (US$15,400) bail on Wednesday night.

The Taipei District Court rejected the prosecutors' request and released Hsiao yesterday morning on condition he does not leave the country.

The NSB issued a press release on Wednesday saying it took legal action against Hsiao because the bureau had advised him not to publish the book when Hsiao sent a draft to the bureau for review.

Classified information was included throughout the book, the bureau said.

Hsiao confirmed that correspondence with the bureau, but said the bureau had never specified which part of his book constituted confidential information.

Hsiao said he wrote the book to pass on the knowledge gained from his 30 years of experience as a NSB official. He said his book should be regarded as a "textbook."

The book addresses topics such as "theories of intelligence," "intelligence gathering," "intelligence analysis," "intelligence strategies," "international intelligence cooperation" and "management of intelligence organizations," copies of the book's index showed.

Hsiao said he agreed that he should "take the confidential information I knew to the grave because leaking the information may endanger people who are still alive."

"This [the NSB's action] was much more terrible than the publication screening of the Taiwan Garrison Command [a key military group during the martial law era]," he said.

The owner of the publisher, Wu Hsin-chien (吳心建), who was also at the press conference, said he felt very upset about the incident as this was the first time in the past three decades that a publication from his company had been seized and banned.

"I don't think there is anything problematic about the content of the book," said Wu, adding that he had read through Hsiao's manuscript before printing the book.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩), who accompanied Hsiao at the conference, said "so-called national security was only an excuse" in the Hsiao case, adding that the seizing of 1,000 "textbook-like" books by prosecutors was a "setback" for the nation's human rights.

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