Hsinchu police on Wednesday apprehended a man who allegedly threatened to kill President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in a suicide bomb attack, although he was released after questioning by prosecutors.
The man also claimed to have links to the Islamic State group.
A police investigation was launched after Facebook posts included threats to attack Tsai.
The Hsinchu City Police Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Brigade said it apprehended a suspect, a 45-year-old man surnamed Lee (李), at a rented apartment in Hsinchu County’s Jhubei District (竹北).
He was taken to a local police station to provide a statement before being transferred to the Hsinchu District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning, said Liu Huan-ching (劉煥清), the police officer in charge of the investigation.
Lee was released late on Wednesday with a warning after authorities decided that he did not pose an immediate danger.
However, prosecutors plan to press charges against Lee for uttering threats that endanger public safety and related offenses, Liu said.
Lee’s comments on Facebook included: “I have just made a bomb for a suicide attack, which I learned how to do from the Islamic State” and “I am the demon who will assassinate President Tsai Ing-wen. If President Tsai is not impeached, then I will kill her.”
Other posts included a string of vitriolic epithets and personal attacks against the president, including: “Tsai is a putrid, diabolical princess,” “Tsai is a low-life creature” and “She is a subservient stooge of Japan and a running dog of the US.”
Lee is a graduate of National Tsing Hua University, where he studied computer science, but has been unemployed for more than a decade, Liu said.
He lives with his dog in a cheap apartment, the officer said.
“Police did not find any evidence of a bomb or weapons at Lee’s residence. He was apparently caught up in the fervor of Taiwanese politics and did not seem to have mental problems,” Liu said. “He told prosecutors that he wrote the messages after getting dunk, and used Islamic State tactics to scare President Tsai, but did not really mean it.”
Lee was released without having to post bail.
The Presidential Office later released a statement calling on the public to avoid malice and hatred in public discourse, and to avoid creating conflict.
“The relevant government agencies will handle the case in accordance with the law,” the office said.
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