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Taiwan

Taiwan’s ex-president Ma Ying-jeou charged with leaking details of wiretap probe

Ma Ying-jeou denies wrongdoing after cause launched by prosecutors in Taipei

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 12:01am

Former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou insisted on his innocence on Tuesday after Taipei prosecutors charged him with leaking confidential information about a criminal investigation.

Ma is accused of passing on sensitive information about an ­investigation into allegations of influence-buying in the island’s legislature to then-cabinet chief Jiang Yi-huah and his top aide, Lo Chih-chiang, four years ago.

The investigation was into the activities of Wang Jin-pyng, Ma’s political rival and a former speaker of the legislature, and former Democratic Progressive Party whip Ker Chien-ming.

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Ma said on Tuesday he had consulted Jiang and Lo before ­deciding how to deal with what he believed was a “world-class ­scandal”. He said he followed proper procedures and did not violate the law by consulting them. Prosecutors also allege that Ma demanded former prosecutor general Huang Shyh-ming publically disclose information about a wiretapped conversation between Wang and Ker.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office alleges Ma violated the Communication Security and Surveillance Act and the Personal Information Protection Act. The former president could face up to three years in jail on the charges. “Ma chose an improper way to deal with what he believed were political flaws and responsibilities involving cabinet members,” said the spokesman for the prosecutors office, Chang Chieh-hsin.

But Ma said the charges indicated a grave miscarriage of justice when “individuals get away with ... influence-peddling while someone who tried to deal with the scandal is being prosecuted”.

The case dates back to September 2013 when Huang reported to Ma about wiretapped conversations between Ker and Wang.

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The now-defunct Special Investigation Department under the Supreme Prosecutors Office later held a news conference and released a transcript of the conversation in which the two men allegedly discussed lobbying senior justice officials to prevent appeals against a breach of trust case in which Ker had been acquitted. Ker and Wang denied any wrongdoing and Ker later sued Ma for leaking secret information.

The wiretapping case led to open dispute between Ma and Wang. Ma wanted Wang’s membership of the then governing Koumintang revoked, which would have led to the speaker’s removal from the legislature.

Wang later sought a court injunction against Ma’s order and successfully fought off efforts to remove him from the party.