Both the Ministry of National Defense and the National Security Bureau (NSB) yesterday dismissed as a “media allegation” a report published by a local media outlet saying that a former director of Taiwan’s defense mission in the US, Major General Li Hsien-sheng (黎賢聖), had close ties to a female Chinese agent, leading to suspicions that sensitive information about the nation’s US weapons procurement program had been leaked to China.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that an investigation by the bureau suggested that the 51-year-old Li, who is married and has two children, is suspected of carrying on an extra-marital affair with a Chinese woman during his stint in the US.
A US intelligence agency became aware of the situation and put the couple under surveillance to track their activities, as intelligence agents knew that the Chinese woman was conducting espionage missions in the US, according to the Apple Daily.
Local media speculated on the possibility of Taiwan’s national security being compromised as Li, as the head of Taiwan’s defense mission in Washington at the time, was in charge of liaising with his US counterparts on a number of major weapons procurement programs.
By virtue of his position as director of the defense mission, Li was responsible for negotiating with the US military on upgrades to F16A/B jets, the proposed sale of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles to Taiwan, the nation’s purchase of a long-range early warning radar system and other major arms deals.
Li was removed from his post after he failed a lie detector test in May this year.
Local media reported that Li subsequently failed follow-up polygraph tests conducted by the NSB and the Military Intelligence Bureau at least five times.
NSB Director-General Lee Hsiang-chou (李翔宙) yesterday confirmed that the bureau was involved in an inquiry into Li’s case.
“But no detail can be divulged, because it is an ongoing investigation. We hope people can wait for the outcome of the investigation and the judicial ruling. This case must be treated with care and prudence. It should not be reported on based on conjecture and chasing shadows in the dark,” Lee said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said no evidence has been found that indicates Li had betrayed his country and passed military secrets on to China.
He dismissed the Apple Daily report as over-dramatic and containing speculations, which may mislead the public.
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