Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Suspected espionage ring busted

INCENTIVES:Six men allegedly involved in selling military secrets are all former low-ranking soldiers, which analysts think is a move by China to test the quality of information

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

An suspected spy ring that was allegedly selling military secrets using the latest digital technology and cloud computing has been busted, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.

Six suspects — mostly retired servicemen — are suspected of selling military secrets to China, authorities said.

Prosecutors allege the operation was headed by a Taiwanese man surnamed Chuang, 33, a former soldier who has been traveling to China to on business over the past four years after his discharge from the military.

Chuang recruited five men in their late twenties and who had formerly served in the army, offering up to NT$250,000 (US$7,768) per document.

The Kaohsiung District Court has granted prosecutors the right to detain Chuang incommunicado, due to likelihood of fleeing him the nation and tampering with evidence, pending charges on breaching the National Security Act (國家安全法).

One suspect surnamed Shih (師), 27, was released without bail, while the other four suspects — surnamed Chen (陳), 28, Liu (劉) 27, Mou (牟), 29 and Chu (諸), 29 — posted bail of between NT$20,000 and NT$40,000 each.

A taskforce headed up by Kaohsiung prosecutor Shih Yu-ting (施昱廷), along with Military Police and Criminal Investigation Bureau investigators began surveillance of the suspects after receiving reports of espionage activities and intelligence security threats at military bases in southern Taiwan.

Investigators allege that Chuang instructed the five men to gather classified information, photographs and other data on military exercise programs and deployment plans, and that from May to last month he made more than 20 transfers to his Chinese contacts and received more than NT$1 million.

Prosecutors allege that Chuang encrypted classified military files and stored them in a cloud for retrieval by his contacts in China.

Shih said investigations revealed that Chuang used Skype to communicate with his Chinese contacts, who in turn provided him with designated cloud storage and other network links to send the data.

Chuang had served in Kaohsiung-based 8th Army Command.

Five suspects were low-ranking soldiers, while one was a lieutenant.

Military analysts said this case was a different approach by Chinese agents, as they were likely testing the viability of recruiting from the lower echelons of the military to see if valuable information could be obtained. In the past Chinese have approached high-ranking officers for military secrets, which requires more money.

As part of their probe, prosecutors raided 11 locations in southern Taiwan and seized computers, hard disks, and USB storage devices, that they said contained classified military information.

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