Following reports that a retired military officer allegedly helped China collect sensitive information about the nation’s missile defense systems when he was in active service 10 years ago, the Ministry of National Defense yesterday reaffirmed its counterintelligence efforts, saying it would communicate with the US about the case.
Retired army major general Hsieh Chia-kang (謝嘉康), the former commander of the Air Defense Missile Command, has been under investigation over allegations he leaked classified information to China.
Hsieh was allegedly approached by retired army colonel Hsin Peng-sheng (辛澎生), who was reportedly recruited by Chinese intelligence operatives as far back as 10 years ago when he was in charge of the missile command.
Hsieh and Hsin were questioned by prosecutors and released on bail earlier this week.
Hsin admitted during questioning to spying for China, but denied allegations that he leaked state secrets, the Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) reported.
The ministry is concerned that key information pertaining to the nation’s missile systems might have been compromised when Hsin was in charge of the command, one of the nation’s top missile units, which controls a large array of weaponry, including Tien Kung and US-made MIM-104F Patriot anti-ballistic missile systems, Hawk anti-aircraft missiles and Hsiung Feng-2E cruise missiles.
“This is the most serious and most damaging espionage case in history, as it involves the most critical missile unit and the compromising of its top officials,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said at the legislature yesterday.
Ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) reaffirmed the military’s counterintelligence operations, but did not confirm if any information had been compromised.
The ministry is to communicate with the US about the case and counterintelligence measures, due to concerns the US might put arms sales to Taiwan on hold, he said.
“We will communicate with the US through appropriate channels and explain our counterespionage and damage control efforts. I believe the US will appreciate our efforts,” Chen said.
About 90 percent of espionage cases have been uncovered due to the ministry’s internal investigations or tip-offs from military personnel, suggesting the ministry’s counterintelligence efforts work, he added.
Counterintelligence measures were in place 10 years ago, Chen said, adding that the ministry collected information on Hsin and Hsieh’s alleged espionage last year.
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