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Reporter detained for allegedly faking election polls on Chinese officials' instruction

12/22/2023 10:26 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Dec. 22 (CNA) An online media reporter was ordered detained by a court in Taichung Friday for publishing eight allegedly fake public opinion polls on the upcoming presidential election at the instruction of Chinese officials, local prosecutors said.

According to the Taiwan Taichung District Prosecutors Office, the reporter, surnamed Lin (林), asked a self-proclaimed poll expert, surnamed Su (蘇), to produce a series of fake polls at the behest of the Communist Party of China's Fujian Provincial Committee in October.

Although Su did not conduct any interviews for the polls, he claimed to have talked to 1,000 people in northern, central and southern Taiwan in collusion with Lin, who works for Finger Media, the office said.

According to a Finger Media report on Dec. 20, support for the three presidential tickets was as follows: 33.05 percent for the main opposition Kuomintang's presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and his running mate Jaw Shau-kong (趙少康); 32.19 percent for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴); and 18.38 percent for Taiwan People's Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Wu Hsin-ying (吳欣盈).

The results, which were re-posted on other online media platforms, misled voters and were part of China's attempt to interfere in Taiwan's presidential election, prosecutors noted in a press release.

Such manipulation jeopardizes Taiwan's sovereignty, freedom, democracy and constitutional order, prosecutors said.

Searches were conducted on Dec. 21 at Lin's home and Finger Media, where cellphones, computers and documents used to fake the polls were seized, prosecutors added.

Lin, Su and seven others were questioned in relation to the case, according to prosecutors.

After further questioning, it was determined Lin and Su engaged in significant violations of the Anti-Infiltration Act, and Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act, prosecutors said.

According to the prosecutors office, it also found substantial evidence suggesting that Lin and Su are a flight risk, and could collude with accomplices to destroy evidence, on which basis it applied to the Taiwan Taichung District Court to detain both individuals.

The court ordered the detention of Lin but released Su, with prosecutors saying they plan to file an appeal against the latter decision.

(By Su Mu-chun and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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