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Two indicted for publishing fake presidential election polls

02/08/2024 09:33 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Two men have been indicted for publishing fake polls before Taiwan's Jan. 13 presidential election under the instruction of Chinese officials, for which they received funding, according to the Taichung District Prosecutors Office.

In the indictment issued on Wednesday, the office said a 52-year-old man identified as Lin (林), a journalist, and a 62-year-old man surnamed Su (蘇), a retired associate professor from a Taichung-based university, were indicted for violating the Anti-infiltration Act and the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act.

According to prosecutors' findings, Lin attended a funded sightseeing trip in Xiamen from April 20-23 last year on the invitation of the Fujian Daily, which is run by the Fujian provincial committee of the Communist Party of China. Su was asked by Lin to accompany him.

After returning to Taiwan, Lin was instructed by the Chinese side to set up a media company in Taichung and produce and publish fake poll results online in a bid to shape public opinion in the runup to the Jan. 13 presidential election, prosecutors said.

It was discovered that Lin had tasked Su to fabricate 10 polls regarding Taiwan's 2024 presidential election, for which Su received NT$1.5 million (US$47,770).

In October 2023, Su fabricated eight surveys and Lin's media company published the results.

In a bid to manipulate and sway public opinion in the tight three-way race, one poll fabricated by Su said the Kuomintang presidential ticket had 33.05 percent of support, ahead of the Democratic Progressive Party at 32.19 percent and the Taiwan People's Party at 18.38 percent.

Prosecutors said Lin had received over 130,000 Chinese yen in funding from the Chinese side and discussed poll presentation methods with them.

While the polls were being fabricated, Lin also allegedly exchanged texts with a man named Chen Binhua (陳斌華), who has the same name as the spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office. However, prosecutors said they were unable to authenticate his identity.

Lin and Su were arrested and detained following prosecutors' searches of their workplaces and homes on Dec. 21, 2023. Evidence, such as smartphones, computers, and materials related to the polls, was seized.

After hearing the case, the Taichung District Court on Wednesday allowed for the release of Lin and Su on bail of NT$350,000 and NT$250,000, respectively.

However, they were banned from changing their abode and leaving the country, prosecutors added.

(By Flor Wang and Su Mu-chun)

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