Officers found guilty of spying for foreign nations would face harsher punishment under draft amendments to the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) that received preliminary legislative approval yesterday in Taipei.
The main draft amendment addresses Article 30 and would add a half term to the court’s sentence if a convict has been an officer for national security or related intelligence duties.
Legislators also approved making the amendment applicable to military personnel within a year of their retirement, in the wake of numerous cases of recently retired military officers found spying for China over the past few years.
In some cases, judges appeared to give lighter sentences because the convicted retired military officers were officially civilians. Such verdicts led to public anger and condemnation.
The session took place during yesterday’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee meeting at the legislature, with National Security Bureau Director-General Lee Shying-jow (李翔宙) on hand to answer questions and discuss the draft amendments and the bureau’s budget.
Lee confirmed that there have been 33 cases of alleged Chinese espionage over the past five years, including investigations, charges or convictions leading to sentencing.
All involved Taiwanese nationals — many who were military officials — being recruited by Chinese intelligence agents or military officers to carry out espionage activities, hand over classified information and undermine Taiwan’s national security.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked the government agencies to cut off pensions for retired military personnel who are found guilty of espionage.
Tsai said that 33 Chinese espionage cases are too many, but also there are more not yet discovered.
“The Chinese government has given a mandate to intensify its espionage work in Taiwan — for more infiltrations, recruitment of agents and gathering intelligence. All these efforts are to destabilize Taiwan and to promote ‘unification’ with China,” Tsai said. “They are seizing this final year of Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) presidency to activate a more vigorous campaign. It is very serious, as Ma has left our nation’s door wide open to Chinese visitors. They want to deny Taiwanese aspirations for an independent nation.”
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