The High Court on Tuesday gave retired air force Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Hsiao-feng (袁曉風) 12 life sentences for passing classified military information to China over a period of six years, adding to a list of spy cases to hit the nation in recent years.
A court official said yesterday that Yuan passed unspecified military secrets to China between 2001 and 2007 through Chen Wen-jen (陳文仁), a former colleague in the air force.
Using flash drives, Yuan and Chen are alleged to have provided classified information to China on 12 separate occasions. Yuan, who was deployed at an air force ground control unit, was found guilty on 12 counts of leaking secrets, each of which carries a mandatory life term, the court official said.
Photo: Yang Kuo-wen, Taipei Times
Yuan, who retired in 2007, was reportedly paid a total of NT$7.8 million (US$269,000) by China for his efforts, though the High Court would not confirm the figure.
Chen received a lighter sentence of 20 years imprisonment, as he had already retired from the military at the time the crimes were committed.
Chen, who retired as a lieutenant in 1992, was operating a business in China and had a Chinese spouse. He was recruited by the Second Department of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff Headquarters, which is in charge of collecting military information. He is then believed to have recruited Yuan after returning to Taiwan and discovering that the latter was still in the air force.
The retired lieutenant is also believed to have collected intelligence on Taiwan’s combat aircraft with assistance from another officer.
Sources said that after retiring Yuan continued to seek access to intelligence through former colleagues.
The pair was detained last year after two junior colleagues they had tried to recruit in August 2011 reported the matter to the armed forces’ internal security, prompting a counter-intelligence probe.
The verdict can be appealed.
The case is one of many instances in which Chinese agents have recruited retired military officers of a certain rank who then rely on their connections with active officers in the armed forces to collect classified information.
The principal targets of Chinese intelligence collection in Taiwan are believed to be the “Po Sheng” C4ISR modernization effort, the Anyu-4 air defense system and the surveillance radar program, which revolves around the long-range early-warning radar on Leshan (樂山), Hsinchu County, which was launched on Friday.
In February last year, an information control officer assigned to an air defense base in northern Taipei, surnamed Chiang (蔣), was arrested in connection with another espionage case. Chiang’s uncle, who operated a business in China, was believed to have served as a conduit.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of National Defense confirmed that a rear admiral had come under investigation as part of an espionage case involving the possible leak of navy secrets. According to reports, Admiral Hsu Chung-hua (徐中華), commander of the 146th Attack Squadron based in Magong, Penghu, had been transferred from his position in connection with the case, which emerged last year after Lieutenant Colonel Chang Chih-hsin (張祉鑫), formerly a commander in charge of political warfare at the navy’s Naval Meteorology Oceanography Office, was arrested in a raid.
The 146th includes Chengkung-class frigates armed with the Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile, among others. Analysts believe Chang’s actions may have compromised the operation of Taiwan’s submarines.
Also this week, the ministry announced that Army Major General Wu Chin-chun (吳金駿), reportedly a trusted aide to Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), had been temporarily reassigned as investigators look into a possible connection between a relative of Wu and the Chang case, which has been described as possibly one of the most damaging espionage cases in recent years.
In January 2011, the Supreme Military Court sentenced army general Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲) to life in prison for passing classified information to China since 2004 after being recruited in Thailand.
Additional reporting by Stacy Hsu and AFP
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
Taiwanese worked more hours than people in all but three other countries in the world last year, Ministry of Labor data showed. Singapore placed first in average hours worked among the 40 economies surveyed, with an average of 2,288 hours per worker last year, the data showed. The city-state was followed by Colombia with 2,172 hours — based on 2019 data — and Mexico with 2,124 hours, it showed. Taiwan came in fourth, with 2,021 hours, it showed. South Korean workers clocked the third-most hours in Asia, with 1,908 hours, followed by Japan with 1,598 hours, it showed. However, compared with 2019, the survey found
The US 7th Fleet yesterday confirmed that a US Navy ship transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Friday. “The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey [DDG 105] conducted a Taiwan Strait transit in cooperation with Royal Canadian Navy [RCN] Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Winnipeg, October 14-15, 2021,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. “Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region,” it added. The transit marked the
‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’: The German, French and Singaporean missions said that Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions are hindering local projects and business operations Several foreign missions in Taiwan have urged the government to ease its strict COVID-19 border controls, which they say are hurting in-person exchanges and business operations. The missions made the appeal in response to media inquiries on how the border controls have affected their respective countries’ exchanges with Taiwan, amid growing concerns voiced privately by Taiwan-based foreign offices and businesses regarding the restrictions. Taiwan has maintained strict entry requirements since March last year, generally prohibiting most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, while it has required those who enter the country to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine. Although the rules have been