Army General Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲), detained in what could be the nation’s worst espionage case in 50 years, was allegedly lured by sex and money offered by a female Chinese agent, local media reported yesterday.
Citing unnamed sources, local media reported that Lo was allegedly recruited while stationed in Thailand between 2002 and 2005, drawn in by a honeytrap set by the agent, then in her early 30s.
When asked for response, the Ministry of National Defense (MND), citing a gag order, yesterday declined to comment except to say that it was still investigating the case.
Before his arrest on Jan. 27, Lo was head of communications and electronic information at the Army Command Headquarters.
From 2002 until 2005, when Lo was stationed in Thailand, he reportedly drew the attention of China owing to his expertise in communications, information and diplomatic work, local media said, so China sent a female spy about 30 years of age to approach him.
Lo, who didn’t take his family with him, was allegedly enamored by this slender woman, who holds an Australian passport and traveled frequently between Thailand, China and the US under the cover of being a trader, local media reports said.
Lo allegedly began to work for China in 2004, providing classified information, and received a reward of between US$100,000 and US$200,000 each time.
Sources cited by the media reports said that after Lo returned to Taiwan in 2005, he continued to have exchanges with the woman via the Internet. The woman, who can easily travel with her Australian passport, also met Lo in the US to gather information.
China would remit Lo’s reward to a bank account in the US and Lo would bring some of his “commission” back to Taiwan, using his preferential immigration clearance, media reports said.
The woman allegedly introduced Lo to a high-ranking Chinese agent stationed in the US and Lo later allegedly reported to this agent.
The thing that amazed the investigators most was that Lo passed loyalty assessments all these years, the media reports said. He was promoted to the rank of general in 2008.
“Everyone was swindled by his humble and polite appearance,” one of the investigators said.
Lo came from a military family. His father and elder brother both served in the military before retiring. His son is currently serving in the military.
Those who know Lo said they were “shocked” to learn about his arrest. They saw him as more of a literary man, acting in a low-profile and cautious manner, even to the extent of being a little “cowardly.”
They couldn’t believe that Lo had “the guts” to do what the reports claim he has done.
They also said that Lo delights in reading books on “cultivating one’s moral character,” and that he is a man of few words, giving the impression of being humble and modest.
Wang Ming-wo (王明我), acting director of the ministry’s General Political Warfare Bureau, on Wednesday blasted the “act of betrayal” by Lo, saying that the 51-year-old officer “has sold his soul and brought shame to the military.”
Wang also apologized to the public, saying that “we feel sorry for those military servicemen on duty and the public who are concerned about national defense.”
He said that although cross-strait relations have warmed, China’s attempts to collect military information from Taiwan have continued unabated to the extent of being “relentless.”
China’s state-controlled Global Times tabloid yesterday quoted Li Fei (李非), an expert on Taiwan at China’s Xiamen University, as saying the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are still actively spying on each other.
“Espionage activities have never ceased, even though cross-strait tensions have eased over the years,” he said, adding that agents no longer targeted only military secrets, but also economic and technological intelligence.
Lo could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces.
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