By Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chinese intelligence officer Zhen Xiaojiang was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for having recruited serving and retired Taiwanese military officers to provide secret information to the communist country.
The Taipei District Court verdicts, which also covered several of the officers implicated in the spy ring, can still be appealed.
Zhen was a rare case of a Chinese national being arrested in Taiwan for spying, after he spent years recruiting local officers and paying them with holidays in Southeast Asia during which they were able to pass on information to other Chinese intelligence officials, prosecutors said.
Hsu Nai-chuan, a retired Army major general who once ran for Kinmen County magistrate, was sentenced to three years in prison. Both Zhen and Hsu were still detained at the time of the verdict.
Six other of those charged received rather light or suspended sentences because they had all admitted they were guilty, reports said. Retired Air Force Colonel Chou Tzu-li will have to serve 18 months in jail, Sung Chia-lu five months, Ma Po-leh four months, retired Army officer Yang Jung-hua five months, Kaohsiung nightclub owner Lee Huan-yu seven months and his friend Chu Chien-ying five months. Most of those sentences were suspended for periods from two to five years, reports said.
Zhen has refused to betray the members of his organization, several of which are still believed to be free, reports said. One of the suspects, Air Force officer Liu Chi-ju, was indicted last June but reportedly fled to China.
Zhen reportedly became a resident of Hong Kong in 2005 and traveled to Taiwan on numerous occasions under the guise of business or tourism trips. He was reportedly interested in intelligence about Taiwan’s French-built Mirage 2000 fighter jets and about a radar base in Hsinchu County.