Thursday, 15 January, 2009

Taiwan checks security after arresting alleged Chinese spies

Taipei - Taiwan on Thursday began to check its security firewall after an employee in the presidential office and his friend were detained on suspicion of spying for China.

"President Ma Ying-jeou has instructed us to cooperate with the judicial investigation and to examine the integrity of our staff," Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi told a news conference. He said that at this stage, the presidential office treats the incident as a judicial case, and refused to discuss details.

But the Taiwan public was shocked by the detention of the two alleged spies and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) blasted Ma for moving too close to China.

"This case shows that there is no mutual trust between Taiwan and China, the invisible war is continuing, and China has not stopped its preparations to swallow Taiwan," DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan told reporters.

"It is time for Ma to adjust his pro-China policies," he added. Wang Jen-ping, an employee in the presidential office, and Chen Pin-jen, a former assistant to a lawmaker, were detained early Thursday following overnight questioning at the Bureau of Investigation.

Prosecutors demanded the men's detention on suspicion of selling state secrets to China and to prevent them from colluding to destroy evidence of their alleged crimes. Investigators arrested Wang and Chen following six months' surveillance.

On Wednesday morning, some 20 prosecutors and investigators searched the two men's homes and Wang's office, and took away four sacks of evidence from Wang's office.

Initial investigation shows that Wang photo-copied secret documents and gave them to Chen, who emailed them to Tang Gang, a member of China's Ministry of National Security, Taiwan news reports said.

The information leaked to China included Taiwan's preparation for the May 20, 2008 transfer of power, when Ma was to succeed outgoing president Chen Shui-bian.

It included a list of members of the power-transfer committee, names of departments of the presidential office and their telephone numbers.

Taiwan media said prosecutors are probing if there are higher-ranking officials in the presidential office who might be involved in this spy ring.

It is the first case of Taiwan's arresting alleged Chinese spies since Ma, from the China-friendly Chinese Nationalist Party, took office.


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