Authorities have detained 40 people on charges of interfering with voting rights, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday, adding that nine are suspected of helping a foreign power to meddle in next month’s presidential and legislative elections.
The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office launched an investigation amid a sweep targeting election fraud across the nation, Department of Prosecutorial Affairs official Kuo Yung-fa (郭永發) told a Cabinet meeting in Taipei.
The ministry conducted the operation in collaboration with the Central Election Commission and the Ministry of the Interior, Kuo said.
As of Tuesday, prosecutors had issued 15 indictments for alleged election interference and 17 for alleged contraventions of the Anti-Infiltration Act (反滲透法), with nine people named as suspects, a justice ministry report showed.
The indictments might be linked to reports that Beijing organized trips to China for local officials.
Other indictments were issued in two cases of alleged vote-buying, two cases of election-related disinformation, 37 cases of illicit foreign campaign financing and eight cases of gambling on vote outcomes, the report said, adding that NT$27.5 million (US$877,753) had been confiscated in the gambling cases.
Prosecutors have also detained 35 people and confiscated NT$2.35 million and a NT$3.5 million car in an alleged case of cash for petition signatures, the report said.
The act forbids conducting electoral activities on behalf of a hostile foreign power, Deputy Minister of Justice Huang Mou-hsin (黃謀信) told a news conference following the Cabinet meeting.
The law also mandates enhanced sentencing for breaking election laws if they are for a foreign power, Huang said.
In other news, a report by cyberintelligence company Graphika said that an online public opinion manipulation scheme favored the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Graphika said in the report published yesterday that it detected “a sustained and coordinated effort to manipulate online conversations about Taiwanese politics” that began as early as May last year.
The team did not attribute the campaign to a specific actor, but the tactics, techniques and procedures used were characteristic of an online influence operation, it said.
The operation used more than 800 Facebook accounts, 13 Facebook groups, one YouTube channel and one TikTok account to spread political memes and videos targeting the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, Vice President William Lai (賴清德), and others, it said.
The operation revolved around material generated by an online persona called “Agitate Taiwan” (鼓動台灣) on TikTok and a now-defunct YouTube channel, it said.
The inauthentic accounts used stolen or digitally manipulated images in their profiles, generated content with nearly the same timestamp, it said, adding that metadata showed their TikTok links were generated during a single browser session.
Additionally, several of the Facebook accounts posted check-ins at identical coordinates in Taichung, Graphika said.
The operation generated and amplified content that focused on debunked allegations that children were drugged at a kindergarten, reports of egg shortages and compaints about Medigen’s COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to depict the DPP as corrupt or incompetent, it said.
However, authentic engagement with the content was scant, it added.
Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua
TWO REPORTS: The body called on EU states to support the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international organizations, as well as closer cooperation with the nation The European Parliament has backed deepening ties with Taiwan and voiced concern about heightened tension across the Taiwan Strait in reports on two major security policies, which include a passage denying that Taiwan is subordinate to China. The parliament adopted the annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in a vote of 338 in favor, 86 against and 122 abstentions during a plenary session from Monday to yesterday. It also passed the annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defense Policy in a vote of 350 in favor, 91 against and 96 abstentions. “Neither Taiwan
NEVER FORGET: Feb. 28 is a day to demand justice and redress, and remember the long, hard road Taiwanese walked to democracy, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che said President-elect William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said he would work to safeguard the nation’s security and democracy to ensure freedom and economic prosperity, and that the tragic events of the 228 Incident “never happen in Taiwan again.” The Incident refers to the indiscriminate killing of a person in a crowd on Feb. 27, 1947, and the gunning down by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of protesters at a resulting demonstration the next day. It was followed by a brutal crackdown. Estimates of the number of eventual deaths vary from 10,000 to more than 30,000. The Incident was closely followed by the White
CRITICAL COMPONENTS: The tail was shielded because ‘enemy forces’ could estimate its speed and acoustic fingerprint by observing the propellers, an analyst said The nation’s first domestically built submarine prototype, the Hai Kun (海鯤號), yesterday was transferred to a dry dock for final harbor acceptance tests. The prototype has been undergoing harbor acceptance tests at the factory of shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan (台灣國際造船) in Kaohsiung since October last year after an unveiling ceremony in late September. On Monday evening, the prototype was towed from the CSBC factory to nearby Jong Shyn floating dock No. 8 and then transferred to a nearby dry dock, where the final tests were being conducted. As the submarine was being moved out of the factory to the floating dock, a large
NATIONALITY ACT: The draft amendments include a new provision that allows guardians of children who are stateless to apply for nationality on their behalf The Cabinet yesterday approved draft amendments to the Nationality Act (國籍法) to ease residency requirements for some foreign professionals applying for naturalization and to allow social welfare agencies to apply for naturalization on behalf of stateless children who are residents. The proposed amendments were approved by the Cabinet in September last year, but had to be reapproved and resubmitted because of the new legislative term that began on Feb. 1. The Ministry of the Interior said that the draft amendments would help improve the retention of professional talent by cutting the required period of residency for “foreign high-level professionals” (外國高級專業人才) applying for