Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Civilian's house was not searched: Military Police Command

Civilian's house was not 
searched: Military Police Command


MPC Chief of Staff Feng Yi (right).

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) No actual search action was carried out by military police at the home of a civilian who was suspected of selling classified government documents online, a general at the Military Police Command (MPC) said Monday.

MPC Chief of Staff Feng Yi (馮毅) made the statement at a press conference held by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to respond to accusations that the military police had searched a civilian's home without a warrant.

The accusation was first made in an online post, dated March 5, by a person with the username "spicy chao tien pepper."

The poster said she was the civilian's daughter and that their home had been searched a few days before the anniversary of the 228 Incident because her father possessed some documents related to the White Terror rule of the Kuomintang, which is now the ruling party.

The documents were seized and her father was taken away for questioning, the poster said.

The post triggered a flood of criticisms and debates over the legitimacy of the military's action.

At the Monday's press conference, Feng said military police had received a tipoff that the man, surnamed Wei, was selling classified documents online, and the police subsequently launched an investigation into the allegation.

Because the probe was still in an early stage, no actions such as filing for a search warrant were taken, Feng explained.

Posing as potential buyers, the investigators met with Wei at his home and he handed them the documents, which were being stored in a damp-proof cabinet, Feng said.

Prior to that, however, Wei had given signed consent to having his home searched but "no actual search was carried out," Feng said.

As for the government documents concerned, Captain Chan Kuo-yi (詹國毅) of the MND's Security Division said an initial investigation found that Wei had sold three declassified documents online.

After declassification, the documents should have been destroyed but probably were sneaked out, Chan said.

Also at the press conference, defense ministry spokesman Maj.Gen. Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) said the case did not involve any Taiwanese or Chinese spies.

What military police were investigating were documents from the "classified White Terror archives," Luo said.

His statement, however, was contradictory to that of Hsieh Ming-te (謝明德), the top political warfare officer at the Military Police Command, who said Sunday that the documents in question were related to communist Chinese spies and their confessions after they surrendered to the Kuomintang government in the 1960s and 1970s.

Addressing an allegation by Wei's daughter that the military police had offered her father NT$15,000 (US$460) "as a reward for his cooperation" in the investigation, Lieutenant General Wen Chen-kuo (聞振國), head of the Political Warfare Bureau, said the money was offered as a reward to help track the leak of the documents. Wei's daughter said her father had turned down the offer.

Meanwhile, Luo said the defense ministry has asked the watchdog Control Yuan and prosecutors to launch an investigation into the case.

Strict punishment will be doled out if any violations of the law are found, he said.

He called for rational discussion of the case and urged people to judge the military's conduct after the truth has been revealed.

"Many online posts are far removed from reality," and therefore are not helpful in the process of finding out the facts, he said.

The Prosecutors' Office of the Taiwan Taipei District Court has started an investigation into the matter.

Military police are obliged to assist in a judicial investigation if necessary and to report their findings to prosecutors, according to Major General Shen Shih-wei (沈世偉) of the defense ministry's Human Rights Protection Division, who cited the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Shen said his initial understanding was that the case was still in an early stage and there was no need at the time to report to prosecutors.