Accused ‘spy’ is released

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Thu, May 28, 2009 - Page 3

A Chinese tourist who was arrested on Monday for entering a military facility and taking pictures was released on his own recognizance late on Tuesday night.

Prosecutor Tseng Chun-tseh (曾俊哲) ordered the man’s release and did not ban him from leaving Taiwan. Tseng took him to the restricted area of the military compound in Taipei City where he was found the previous day, to reconstruct his movements.

The man, identified as Ma Zhongfei (馬中飛), was handed over on Tuesday to the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office for investigation on suspicion of illegally intruding into a military area, which carries a punishment of up to one-year’s imprisonment, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday slammed the prosecutor’s decision to release Ma without imposing a travel ban.

“Ma detected military equipment and achieved his goal, but Taiwan’s judiciary neglected its duty to protect the country,” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said.

Yu said Ma was caught taking photos of military equipment installed at a computer warfare command center that is part of a military recruitment complex on Keelung Road in downtown Taipei. The recruitment center is open to the general public, but the computer warfare command area is a restricted facility.

Military officers immediately detained Ma after discovering that he had entered a restricted military facility, Yu said.

An initial investigation found that Ma entered Taiwan a few days ago as part of a tourist group from China. Ma is the chairman of a Chinese technology company, which does not appear to have an English name. Its Chinese name can be loosely translated as Guangdong Sikeda Technologies Co Ltd (廣東思科達信息技術有限公司).

Meanwhile, dpp legislator chiu yi-ying (邱議瑩) asked how the prosecutors would summon ma for further questions or bring him to court if he could leave taiwan anytime.

chinese nationalist party (kmt) caucus secretary-general yang chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said: “we respect the judiciary’s decision [to release him]. after all, the judiciary released him after conducting a thorough investigation.”

when asked for comments yesterday, yang described the incident as a “single case,” adding that this should not influence other visits by chinese tourists to taiwan.

but she said the caucus would urge the tourism bureau to have tour guides clearly inform tourists of regulations in taiwan before they arrive.

as part of the investigation, tseng escorted ma on tuesday morning to retrace his movements in taipei.

ma said that he entered the military recruitment center as he was on keelung road on his way to xindian in taipei county, where he planned to pay his respects to a deceased friend, tseng said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND RICH CHANG