Ex-legislative aides indicted for espionage released on bail

Two of the indicted aides arrive at the Taipei District Court. CNA photo Aug. 13, 2020

TAIPEI (CNA) — Two of three former legislative aides charged with spying and developing a spy network in Taiwan for China were released on bail Thursday, hours after their indictment earlier the same day.

According to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office, Chen Wei-jen (陳惟仁) and Lee Yi-hsien (李易諴) were released on bail of NT$100,000 (US$3,380) and NT$60,000, respectively, after being detained in June. But they are barred from leaving the country.

Chen, Lee and another suspect Lin Yung-ta (林雍達) are accused of attempting to collect and pass on sensitive government information to China’s Ministry of State Security between 2012 and 2016. Lin had been released on bail of NT$100,000 in June.

On Thursday morning, the three were indicted for allegedly developing spying activities and organizing espionage networks in Taiwan for Chinese agencies, in violation of the National Security Act.

Prosecutors said that both Chen and Lin were found to have traveled to Macau in 2012, where they met up with a Chinese intelligence officer, identified as “Huang Guanlong” (黃冠龍), who instructed them to set up a spy network in Taiwan and gather information for the Chinese security agency in exchange for financial gain.

The two previously worked as aides to Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧), who at the time was a lawmaker for the Kuomintang (KMT) and is currently deputy mayor of Chiayi City.

Lee, who worked as a reporter at the time, was recruited by Huang in Guangzhou, in China’s Guangdong Province, to work for the network in 2014.

Lee subsequently became an assistant to Chang Li-shan (張麗善), an ex-KMT legislator who was elected as Yunlin county magistrate in November 2018, according to media reports.

In 2016, Chen and Lee were asked by Huang to try and obtain from the National Police Agency information regarding anti-China activities carried out by Falun Gong members in Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) medical records and campaign information from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

However, they efforts proved fruitless, prosecutors said.