Four Taiwanese, one Chinese acquitted in attempted espionage case

Taipei-A Chinese man and four Taiwanese men accused of attempting to spy for China were acquitted in the Taipei District Court on Wednesday.

In its ruling, the court said prosecutors had not provided conclusive evidence that the five defendants had recruited people in Taiwan to provide national security information to China or destabilize the society.

The court also said prosecutors had not established that four of the defendants had been paid by Chinese officials to carry out such actions.

As the defendants could not be proven to have posed an immediate and tangible risk to national security, the court said, they were being acquitted of the relevant charges.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it will appeal the verdict.

Among the five defendants was Chinese national Zhou Hongxu (???), who had been imprisoned previously for 14 months in another case of spying for China.

Three members of the pro-unification New Party -- Wang Ping-chung (???), Lin Ming-cheng (???) and Hou Han-ting (???) -- were also acquitted Wednesday, along with Wang Jin-pu (???), the father of Wang Ping-chung.

According to prosecutors, they were investigating a suspected attempt by Zhou to recruit a Taiwanese diplomat to work as an undercover agent for China, when they discovered a connection between Zhou and the three New Party members.

Prosecutors accused the three New Party members of setting up groups in Taiwan in December 2014 -- both on the ground and online – to recruit spies, on the instruction of China government agencies such as the Taiwan Affairs Office.

Chinese officials were funding the effort, and the main targets were students and retired and incumbent servicemen, prosecutors said.

Zhou, meanwhile, was serving as the liaison between the Chinese officials and the Taiwanese recruiters, and Wang's father was also helping to expand the network, prosecutors said.

All five people were aware of the military tensions between Taiwan and China, but they attempted to jeopardize national security and social stability in Taiwan, in violation of the National Security Act, prosecutors said in the indictments.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel