The High Court yesterday upheld controversial six-month prison terms for two retired lieutenant colonels found guilty of breaching the National Security Act (國家安全法).
The ruling caused an uproar, with many saying that six months was too lenient and that neither man would serve time, as their sentences could be commuted to fines of NT$180,000.
Lin Shih-pin (林世斌), 59, and Pien Peng (邊鵬), 56, retired in 2005 and 2010 respectively and went to work in China, where they were recruited by Chinese intelligence officers, a judicial investigation found.
The case caused alarm in Taiwanese military and intelligence agencies, because Lin had worked at the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, while Pien had worked at the Ministry of National Defense’s Communications Development Office.
Lin was involved in the development of radar-guided missiles after his former unit, the 206th Arsenal, was merged with the institute in 1984 to create the institute’s Missile and Rocket Systems Research Division, which developed the Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile.
Pien’s unit gathered signal intelligence and he also worked for the Foreign Intelligence Office of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Investigators found that Lin was befriended by Chinese Central Military Commission Political Work Department Colonel Wang Yongxu (王永旭), who was responsible for intelligence-gathering activities targeting Taiwan’s military, including the recruitment of Taiwanese officers.
Wang recruited Lin in 2009 with financial incentives and paid for trips to major Chinese cities, the court said.
Lin later agreed to Wang’s request to invite other retired Taiwanese military officers to China, including taking an air force colonel surnamed Yu (游) to Shanghai and Xian in 2009 and 2010 respectively, it said, adding that Wang asked Lin to establish a spy network to access Taiwanese military secrets and pass them on to China.
Yu was commander of the air operations center at Leshan Radar Station, an important early-warning facility in the mountains of northern Taiwan.
Pien in late 2015 took two retired air force officers surnamed Fan (范) and Yen (顏) on a trip to Hangzhou, China, where they met Wang for dinner, investigators said.
The next year, Pien again invited them for a trip to China and offered financial inducements, they said, adding that Yen refused, but Fan agreed and visited Fuzhou, where he met with Wang and four other Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force officers.
The Chinese officers asked Pien and Fan about Taiwan’s nighttime aerial combat operations, fighter jet combat training and responses to an amphibious assault, investigators said.
Uncomfortable with the conversation, Fan reported the incident to the ministry after returning to Taiwan and an investigation was launched that uncovered Lin’s and Pien’s recruitment and their crimes, the court said.
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