The Taipei District Court yesterday acquitted Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠), two fellow New Party members and a Chinese student, Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭), on all charges in an espionage case, although prosecutors said that they would appeal the first ruling.
After three years of investigation and hearings, the judges said that there was insufficient evidence to show that Wang, Wang’s father, Wang Chin-pu (王進步), Zhou, New Party Taipei City Councilor Ho Han-ting (侯漢廷) and New Party executive Lin Ming-cheng (林明正) were developing a spy network for China, and “their activities did not pose a danger to national security or social stability.”
Wang Chin-pu was indicted as an alleged accessory to espionage and other illegal activity.
The five were indicted in June 2018 over alleged breaches of the National Security Act (國家安全法) after they were accused of receiving funding from office units controlled by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, money that prosecutors said Wang and his associates used to set up propaganda Web sites.
They sought to infiltrate political and military circles, and recruit people to spy for China, prosecutors said.
Wang Ping-chung and other New Party members, as well as Zhou, established a Web site called Fire News, and launched the Association of New Chinese Sons and Daughters (新中華兒女學會) and the Chinese Culture Rejuvenation Association (大中華復興社) to attract students and young people, prosecutors said.
Documents showed that Wang Ping-chung had written: I will “work under the guidance and assistance of the Chinese Communist Party to unite and integrate the forces working to achieve unification across the Taiwan Strait,” prosecutors said.
“We were adamant from the start that we advocate Taiwan’s unification with China,” Wang Ping-chung told reporters after the ruling. “How is that breaking the law?”
“The case was wrong from the onset,” he said.
“There should never have been an investigation or an indictment, and naturally, we were acquitted,” he said, adding that the judges had “withstood the pressure from prosecutors to find us guilty and impose a severe punishment.”
“I hope our belief in peaceful unification with China will not be persecuted by Taiwan’s authorities, and I ask that the judges lift the travel restrictions on us to go abroad,” he said.
The New Party in a statement lauded the judges’ decision, saying that they had “refused to bow under pressure, but had upheld justice.”
Prosecutors had “unfairly targeted Wang Ping-chung and the others using deceit and entrapment,” the party said.
“They had no evidence to show that classified materials were stolen or national security was endangered,” it said. “Fortunately, the judges have cleared them of all charges.”
“Although Wang Ping-chung, Zhou and the other defendants set up the operations, evidence is lacking that they worked on behalf of China to develop the networks,” the judges said. “The interactions were normal activities between friends, and did not pose danger to national security or social stability.”
During the trial, Wang Ping-chung told the court that “it was us who recruited Zhou, not Zhou who recruited us.”
The funding was “legitimate income from legal business earnings in China,” he said.
Ho said that the activities they were accused over were regular cross-strait cultural interactions, and there was no intention to harm national security.
Zhou, a graduate student attending university in Taiwan, in 2017 was convicted of spying for China in a separate case, with his 14-month sentence upheld by the High Court in April 2018 and the Supreme Court in March last year.
HIGH-RISK GROUP: After the latest outbreak, family members of workers exposed to infection would from tomorrow be eligible for government-funded vaccines The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four local COVID-19 cases: three family members of an infected worker at a quarantine hotel and a family member of an infected pilot. The new cases bring the number of infections involving China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) pilots and the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, where many of the airline’s crew members quarantined, to 24. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said three of them are the husband, son and daughter of case No. 1,129, a woman in her 60s, who works at the hotel. The son is in
NEXT STEP? The contract chipmaker said it would decide whether to add more plants based on operation efficiency, cost economics and demand Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to build several more chipmaking fabs in the US state of Arizona beyond the one already planned, three people familiar with the matter said. TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, announced in May last year that it would build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. The 12-inch wafer fab in Phoenix is expected to start mass production in 2024, the Investment Commission said in December, when it approved the plan. Three sources familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that up
VIRUS CURBS: Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan is banned until May 17, the CECC announced The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday banned visits to patients or residents at healthcare and long-term care facilities in three cities until May 17. It also reported six imported cases of COVID-19 and two cases with unclear infection sources. As the number of locally transmitted cases rises, some of whom have visited many places in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, enhanced disease prevention measures have to be implemented in the three cities, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. “Visiting people staying at healthcare and long-term care facilities in Taipei, New Taipei City and
UP TO TWO DAYS: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said that most who got the shot and felt discomfort only felt ill for the first two days Employees can ask for unpaid COVID-19 vaccination leave, from the day of their shot until the end of the next day, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday, adding that the policy takes effect immediately. “The policy of unpaid COVID-19 vaccination leave will be implemented starting on May 5, and all workers and civil servants will be eligible,” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news conference. Leave can be taken on the day of vaccination and if recipients feel discomfort after getting the shot, they can extend the leave to all of the