Taiwanese prosecutors search homes of pro-unification New Party officials

Four men believed to have been questioned in relation to spying case

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 11:04pm

Prosecutors searched the homes of four officials from Taiwan’s pro-unification New Party on Tuesday morning before questioning them as “witnesses” in a case involving “violation of the national security law”, judicial authorities said.

While the justice ministry’s Investigation Bureau would not give further details, local media reports said it was related to the case of mainland Chinese man Zhou Hongxu, who is serving a 14-month jail sentence for trying to bribe a diplomat and recruit spies for Beijing.

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One of the officials, Lin Ming-cheng, who handles youth affairs, confirmed after his release that he had been questioned about the spying case and his relationship with Zhou but denied there was any connection.

“It is absurd for them to make a link between Zhou and us all because they found a mention of us on Zhou’s computer,” Lin told reporters.

Earlier, Lin was taken to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office as a witness along with New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung and two other party officials who also handle youth affairs, the Investigation Bureau said in a statement.

“The party involved [Wang] refused to cooperate so investigators had to get a warrant issued by the court to search their homes and take them to the court for questioning,” the statement said.

Wang would not open his door when investigators arrived on Tuesday morning and began a live broadcast on his Facebook page, describing the search as a politically motivated bid to purge the pro-unification party.

He also accused the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party of launching a political witch-hunt against those who supported Beijing.

Investigators eventually opened the door with the help of a locksmith before carrying out the search.

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Local media including the pro-DPP Liberty Times newspaper quoted unnamed judicial sources as saying that the four officials – Wang, Lin, Hou Han-ting and Chen Shih-chun – were suspected to have helped Zhou, a graduate of a top Taiwan university.

Zhou was found guilty of violating the National Security Act by the Taipei District Court in September.

According to the Liberty Times report, Wang and Zhou became friends after the island’s student-led Sunflower movement in 2014 and often exchanged views.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office declined to comment on the reports, saying no details would be made public until the investigation had concluded.

The justice ministry and the presidential office also declined to comment on the case.

But Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency reported on Tuesday night that prosecutors had summoned Zhou for cross-examination with the four men.

The New Party held a news conference earlier in the day questioning the legality of the procedures since the four men were summoned as witnesses. “What have they done to deserve such treatment?” asked vice-chairman Lee Sheng-feng. “All they have done is to openly denounce Taiwan independence and call for speedy reunification between Taiwan and the mainland.”

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