TAIPEI–Taiwan’s defense minister has confirmed for the first time that tip-offs offered by the United States had helped crack the island’s worst espionage case in 50 years, an official said yesterday.
Thanks to the U.S. information, “it took only three months for the military and national security units to crack the case,” minister Kao Hua-chu said in parliament, according to his spokesman.
Taiwan authorities in January arrested Major General Lo Hsien-che over claims that he spied for China, reportedly after he was lured by sex and money offered by a female Chinese agent on a 2002-2005 posting to Thailand.
The 51-year-old was head of the army’s telecommunications and electronic information department, according to the defense ministry, which said it was Taiwan’s most serious espionage case in five decades.
The minister did not go into detail about the information that Lo may have leaked to China, nor did he say how the U.S. authorities became alarmed.
Taiwan’s China Times newspaper cited an unnamed security source as saying that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation had come across Lo while probing another espionage case in the United States.
In that case, the FBI accused Kuo Tai-shen, a U.S. citizen who was born in Taiwan, of obtaining secret military documents from Pentagon employee Gregg William Bergersen and passing them onto Beijing.
The documents included information about the Po Sheng (Broad Victory) system — a command, control and communications network that Taiwan is buying from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin for NT$46 billion (US$1.6 billion).
Defense Minister Kao told parliament that he believed the espionage allegations would not hamper arms sales by the United States, which is Taiwan’s main weapons supplier.
A senior member of the parliament’s national defense committee, Lin Yu-fang, believes damage from the revelations “was probably limited as the army had only just started receiving equipment for the network,” an aide told AFP.