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Ex-legislative candidate indicted on charges related to China

03/01/2024 07:39 PM
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Former independent legislative candidate Ma Chih-wei (front). CNA file photo
Former independent legislative candidate Ma Chih-wei (front). CNA file photo

Taoyuan, March 1 (CNA) The Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office on Friday indicted former independent legislative candidate Ma Chih-wei (馬治薇) for passing information to and receiving financial support from China as she prepared to run in Taiwan's Jan. 13, 2024 elections.

An office spokesperson told local media Friday that it is seeking a 44-month prison term and NT$2 million (US$63,231) fine for Ma for violating the Anti-Infiltration Act, National Security Act and Personal Data Protection Act.

Ma has been detained by prosecutors since Jan. 5 as they investigated allegations that Ma collaborated with China, and their indictment was handed down Friday following the completion of the investigation.

In their indictment, prosecutors said Ma contravened the Anti-Infiltration Act -- enacted to prevent the intervention of "foreign hostile forces" in Taiwan -- by taking money from an "infiltrative entity" to fund her election bid.

She violated the National Security Act for passing on "Taiwanese intelligence and other election-related information to her benefactors," the office said.

The indictment alleged that the 40-year-old became acquainted with Chinese "people involved in Taiwan affairs" during a trip to China in early April 2023, and the two sides discussed providing political intelligence on Taiwan in exchange for funding from China.

Ma then made many visits between Taiwan and China in April and May, when she received her first two remittances of US$10,000 (NT$316,175) and US$5,000.

She subsequently visited China multiple times between October and December 2023, and received US$8,306, US$1,106 and US$9,910 in the form of Tether, a cryptocurrency, according to the indictment.

In exchange for these payments totaling about NT$1 million, Ma gave her handlers a book containing a list of contacts for central government agencies given to legislators, prosecutors said.

The book, which prosecutors said is meant to be kept confidential, contained the job titles, names and phone numbers of officials working in the Presidential Office, Executive Yuan and National Security Bureau.

Ma, who had little chance of winning the high-profile race in her district and ended up finishing third in a three-way race with 8.56 percent of the vote, also took instructions from her Chinese contacts on running her campaign, prosecutors said.

Due to Ma's insistence during the investigation that she did not do anything wrong and her subsequent lack of cooperation, the office recommended a more severe sentencing to the Taoyuan District Court, where Ma is currently being detained.

Ma used to be a reporter for a local media outlet and was the Taoyuan chapter spokesperson for the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) in 2023.

TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) originally suggested he might formally back Ma to run as a TPP candidate, but she ended up registering as an independent candidate in November after failing to secure the TPP's official support.

She was expelled from the TPP on Jan. 6, one day after being detained.

(By Yeh Chen and James Lo)

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