The High Court’s Kaohsiung branch on Thursday sentenced a naval officer to one-and-a-half years in prison after convicting him of stealing classified documents from onboard the Republic of China Navy vessel Cheng De.
The officer can appeal the ruling.
Prosecutors in 2018 searched the residence of chief petty officer Hung Ching-cheng (洪景政), 40, in Kaohsiung, where he had stored downloaded materials from the Kang Ding-class frigate, 130 files of which were highly classified military documents.
Prosecutors, who requested the court to impose a severe sentence, charged Hung with leaking confidential military information, a breach of Article 22 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法), along with contravening provisions under the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法).
As justification for a harsh sentence, they pointed to the charge of “crimes of treason,” regarding which Article 103 of the military’s criminal code states: “Any person colluding with a foreign state or its agent with intent that such state or other state start war against the Republic of China shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment... Any person preparing or conspiring to commit an offense specified in Paragraph 1 shall be sentenced to imprisonment not less than three years, but not more than 10 years.”
However, the court decided on a prison term of less than two years after only convicting Hung of lesser offenses — of obtaining computer files without authorization from another person.
Hung was in charge of the frigate’s telecommunications systems and used his duties to enter the vessel’s Combat Information Center, where he downloaded the high-level military and national security materials, investigators said, adding that the downloading started in 1998, still occurred in 2003 and ended in January 2017.
After prosecutors presented the evidence for his indictment, the navy discharged Hung.
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