Chinese spy Zhen Xiaojiang (second right, CNA file photo).
Taipei, April 27 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court upheld Wednesday a ruling by a lower court that sentenced a former Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer last year to four years in prison for violation of the National Security Act.
In September 2015, the Taipei District Court ruled Zhen Xiaojiang (鎮小江), a retired PLA captain, guilty of setting up a spy ring in Taiwan.
Zhen, based in Xiamen, China, was found to have traveled to Taiwan frequently after he acquired Hong Kong residency in 2005.
Traveling on a tourist visa, Zhen managed to set up the spy ring by recruiting retired and active Taiwanese military officers to collect secret military intelligence, according to the district court.
Retired Taiwan Army Maj.-Gen. Hsu Nai-chuan (許乃權), who once ran unsuccessfully for the post of Kinmen magistrate, was also given a three-year jail term at the district court in relation to the case.
Hsu is the highest-ranking army officer in Taiwan to be prosecuted for an offense against national security.
On Wednesday, the Taiwan High Court reduced the penalty for Hsu to two years and 10 months.
Teng Cheng-chiou (鄧振球), the presiding High Court judge, explained that although Hsu was found guilty of helping Zhen expand his spy network by introducing other retired and serving military officers, his conduct could only be determined as an "attempt" -- an offense that occurrs when a person comes dangerously close to carrying out a criminal act and intends to commit the act, but does not in fact commit it.
As for Zhen, the court found that the number of criminal acts involving the Chinese national was higher than those unearthed in the first trial, Teng said. Thanks to Zhen's confession and cooperation with the trial proceedings, the court decided to maintain the original sentence, he noted.
The trial proceedings were not open to the public because secret intelligence was involved. As a result, the High Court did not publish the ruling, but gave only an oral statement when announcing its ruling Wednesday, given that the public enjoy "the right to know," according to Teng.
The case can still be appealed.
(By Yu Kai-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)