The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday filed an appeal against the sentence for convicted Chinese spy Zhen Xiaojing (鎮小江), saying it was too lenient for a crime that has seriously damaged national security.
Seven other defendants, all Taiwanese nationals recruited by Zhen to set up a spy ring, were found guilty of espionage and other offenses in a ruling by the Taipei District Court on Sept. 1.
The prosecutors said in a statement that the punishment handed out to Zhen and the seven Taiwanese defendants — all of whom were ranking military officers or had ties to the military — were only light jail terms or suspended sentences, and would not deter people from engaging in espionage and other illegal activities that breach national security.
Zhen was sentenced to four years in prison, while retired army major general Hsu Nai-chuan (許乃權), who ran unsuccessfully for Kinmen County commissioner in November’s nine-in-one elections, received a three-year term.
The court also gave a suspended 18-month sentence, deferred for five years, to retired air force colonel Chou Chih-li (周自立); a suspended five-month term, deferred for two years, to retired army officer Yang Jung-hua (楊榮華); a suspended 12-month sentence, deferred for four years, to retired air force pilot Sung Chia-lu (宋嘉祿); and a suspended four-month term, deferred for two years, to retired air force pilot Ma Po-le (馬伯樂).
Lee Huan-yu (李寰宇), operator of a bar in Kaohsiung, a favorite hangout of military officers, received a jail term of seven months, which was deferred for three years.
Prosecutors said the court should not have applied “cumulative offense” (集合犯) to Zhen and the other defendants, where it treated the case as a single crime and each charged for only one count.
They said the judge should have tried the defendants for separate criminal violations and meted out punishment accordingly.
“Between 2005 and 2013, Zhen recruited Hsu, Chou, Yang, Lee, Sung, Lee and other Taiwanese nationals to develop an espionage network, which aimed to make further contact and recruit active military personnel. Zhen’s network worked for China to gather classified information and conducted spying activities at military installations,” the prosecutors’ statement said.
“This network infiltrated all three branches of the nation’s armed forces. It penetrated holes in military installations and opened the door to our national defense system. It inflicted serious damage to our national security, and the case has endangered the nation’s Taiwan’s constitutional democracy,” it added.
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