A Taiwan lieutenant colonel surnamed Hsiao, based in the army's Aviation and Special Forces Command, had been detained on suspicion of leaking defence secrets to "foreign forces including China" and "developing organisations", the official Central News Agency (CNA) reported. The defence ministry has said that there are other defendants, who have been detained with Hsaio. The Taiwan High Court on Monday approved a motion filed by prosecutors to hold him incommunicado.
Hsiao, of the Taoyuan-based Army Aviation and Special Forces Command's 601st Brigade, recruited active and retired military personnel to build a spy network to gather military intelligence and pass it on to China's government, CNA reported. Tensions between China and Taiwan have been on the rise with China pressuring the island state to accept its sovereignty by increasing military activity in the region.
According to a Reuters report, China has, in recent years mounted a sustained espionage campaign to undermine democratically governed Taiwan's military and civilian leadership. Amid the latest developments, Taiwan's military vowed to step up counter-espionage efforts.
"Facing infiltration by the Chinese Communist Party, the national forces will continue to boost counter-espionage education and raise awareness," the ministry said told Reuters adding it was saddened by the crime of "selling out the country and people". Investigators from the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau and prosecutors raided the 601st Brigade after receiving a tip on the alleged spy network.
The prosecutors, after questioning the two suspects, asked the High Court to detain both of them on suspicion of treason, which was granted by the high court. The prosecutors also questioned four retired military personnel suspected of being involved in the network and later released them on bail.
The offence of treason by active duty military personnel for passing confidential information to China carries a maximum 10-year sentence, according to a CNA report. It was the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and related national security units that first suspected Hsieh may have been spying for China and handed over relative evidence to prosecutors after an internal investigation.
Any details regarding the case like the type of information that may have been collected weren't made known.