The Ministry of Justice yesterday rebutted a media report that China had asked for the release of major general Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲), who was sentenced to life in prison for selling military secrets to Beijing, in exchange for two Taiwanese agents currently serving prison terms in China.
The Chinese-language China Times said in a report published yesterday that Taiwan’s and China’s national security bureaus had conducted private discussions in an unnamed Southeast Asian country over a proposed exchange of jailed spies.
China asked for Lo’s release, but Taiwanese authorities rejected the demand, the report said.
Taiwan had reportedly requested the release of two colonels with the Military Intelligence Bureau — Chu Kung-hsun (朱恭訓) and Hsu Chang-kuo (徐昌國) — who were arrested in June 2006 by China’s national security bureau at its border with Vietnam, the paper said.
Asked to comment on the report by legislators at a meeting of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday morning, Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said that Lo Hsien-che is a Republic of China citizen and cannot be handed over to China.
The minister added that there was no room for such discussion.
National Security Bureau Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) told legislators that the government had never given up on helping Chu and Hsu return to Taiwan.
Lo Hsien-che was involved in the nation’s biggest espionage case in 50 years.
In June 2011, the Military High Court sentenced the former head of communications and electronic information at army command headquarters to life in prison for selling military secrets to China.
Since the passage of legislative amendments last year transferring jurisdiction of military criminal cases to the civilian judicial system during peacetime, Lo Hsien-che’s case was also transferred from the Military Supreme Court to the Supreme Court.
The Military High Court had ruled that he violated Article 17 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces, which stipulates “conducting intelligence actions for the enemy leads to [the] death sentence or life imprisonment.”
The court said Lo Hsien-che on five occasions delivered classified information to Beijing and received payments that may have totaled US$1 million since 2004.
Lo Hsien-che, who was arrested in January 2011, was stationed in Thailand from 2002 to 2005. He is believed to have been recruited by Chinese agents in a “honey trap” operation in 2004, and thereafter collected military secrets and delivered classified information to Beijing.
His indictment document said he frequented prostitutes when he was in Thailand and that Chinese agents blackmailed him after they filmed him soliciting sex. Fearing the scandal would hurt his military career, he began spying for Beijing, it said.