Taiwan naval officer arrested for stealing secrets, but was he spying?
Investigators search accused’s home, seize mobile phone and computers
Taiwan has arrested a naval officer for allegedly stealing classified information from the computer system of a frigate he served on for seven years, in what is believed to be an espionage case.
The officer, 40, identified only by his family name Hung, is accused of stealing secrets and storing them on a hard disk he kept at his home in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.
Chief prosecutor Lin Ying-hua said that as master petty officer, Hung had been responsible for maintaining the computer systems aboard the Chen De La Fayette frigate (FFG-1208) between July 2011 and June 2018.
He is accused of illegally copying “a great number of sensitive cyber intelligence and classified information from the computer system of the vessel”, Lin said.
According to Lin, the hard disk came to light during a search of Hung’s home in relation to a separate case. Investigators sent the disk to the navy for verification, and learned in August that it contained classified information, he said.
Prosecutors said on Friday that investigators had seized other items, including Hung’s mobile phone and computers after undertaking another search at his current house, as well as at the family home where he grew up in Chiayi, southwestern Taiwan.
Investigators also searched the warship and questioned 11 witnesses, including the captain and Hung’s former colleagues.
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Lin declined to comment on whether the classified information had been shown or sold to others, or whether Hung was accused of spying for other governments, as prosecutors were still investigating.
He did say that Hung was arrested for allegedly violating national security, anti-treason and subversion laws, as well as the statute against the leaking of national secrets.
Last month, Beijing accused Taipei of blackmailing mainland students on short-term study in Taiwan after using sex and other tools to lure them into spying, an allegation immediately refuted by Taiwan.
The two sides have traded spying accusations for decades, ever since the former Nationalist, or Kuomintang, forces fled to the island in 1949 after they were defeated by the Chinese Communists in a civil war in 1949.
Beijing has considered the self-ruled island a wayward province that must be brought back to the Chinese fold, by force if necessary.