Former representative to Switzerland Rex Wang (王世榕) was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison by the Taipei District Court yesterday for violating the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) in a book he published in 2009.
Wang served as Taiwan’s top diplomat to Switzerland from 2002 until 2008. His memoir, Straight Talk (直言), touches on the challenges and details of his position.
According to the verdict handed down by the court, Wang was accused of collecting classified documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the representative office in Switzerland.
After leaving the post, Wang published the book, in which he mentioned Switzerland’s one-China policy and the scandal involving Taiwan’s purchase of Lafayette warships from France, citing contents of the documents.
The ministry believed that the publication of the book constituted an act of leaking classified information and therefore referred the case to the judiciary for prosecution.
In court, Wang denied that he had collected or leaked classified information, saying that the contents of the book reveal to the public the bureaucracy within the diplomatic system.
He added that what he disclosed in the book did not involve classified information that may breach national security.
However, the court ruled that, having served as a representative to another country, Wang should understand the diplomatic challenges that Taiwan faces, and should have been more cautious in handling classified documents, instead of publishing a book citing such documents.
In response, Wang yesterday expressed regrets over the court’s decision, adding that he thinks the court’s definition of “national secrets” is too conservative.
“No wonder it’s so difficult to reform the government,” he said.
He added that he would discuss with his lawyer before making the decision to appeal.
Wang said that he published the book with the intention to improve the foreign ministry, and that he had not disclosed any confidential information.