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MOFA takes legal actions against lawmaker over confidential document leak

05/07/2024 05:14 PM
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Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CNA file photo
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 7 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) filed a report with prosecutors on Tuesday accusing an opposition lawmaker of allegedly violating the Criminal Code by leaking a confidential document about Taiwan's aid to Ukraine.

Talking to the media before filing a report with Taipei District Prosecutors Office, Roy Hsu (許柏逸), deputy head of MOFA's Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, said it is regrettable that Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯) divulged details of an MOU Taiwan signed with the Czech Republic last December on joint assistance for Ukraine.

Deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affair's Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs Roy Hsu (許柏逸) files a report with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Tuesday. CNA photo May 7, 2024
Deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affair's Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs Roy Hsu (許柏逸) files a report with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Tuesday. CNA photo May 7, 2024

The senior diplomat said MOFA listed the MOU's details as confidential and off-limits to the general public. The document had been previously sent to Hsu Chiao-hsin and other lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan for their reference.

"Hsu blatantly disregarded related laws by making the confidential document public in front of the media," the MOFA official said.

He added that the ministry believes the lawmaker has violated Section One under Article 132 of the Criminal Code.

That section stipulates that a public official who discloses or gives away a document of a secret nature relating to matters other than national defense could face a maximum of three years in prison.

MOFA spokesman Jeff Liu (劉永健) on Monday defended the government's handling of the MOU, saying that the ministry announced some of its content in December, but kept other portions secret due to the risk of such deals facing "obstruction" or "sabotage" -- presumably referring to China.

Tuesday's legal proceedings were initiated after the lawmaker presented a copy of the confidential MOU during a Sunday press event.

The lawmaker revealed that Taiwan agreed to provide a US$10 million donation to rebuild Ukraine's medical capacity through an organization called the Czech Health Technology Institute (CHTI), with the condition that 30-40 percent of the funds be used to purchase medical supplies from Taiwan.

The KMT member cited concerns over the potential misuse of taxpayers' money and raised alarm over MOFA potentially choosing which Taiwanese companies would be involved in the project.

Kuomintang Legislator Hsu Chiao-hsin. CNA file photo
Kuomintang Legislator Hsu Chiao-hsin. CNA file photo

MOFA has since dismissed Hsu Chiao-hsin's claims as groundless, stressing the transparency of the cooperation.

In a Facebook post late Monday, Hsu criticized MOFA and other government departments for regularly misusing confidentiality to avoid public scrutiny.

As an opposition lawmaker, she said it is her job to monitor how the government spends money and ensure public funds are not misused. She added that she will continue doing her job despite MOFA's legal proceedings against her.

Hsu also argued that when she made the details of the MOU public, she covered some parts of it to make sure no confidential information was released.

On Monday, the fringe pro-Taiwan independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party also filed a report with prosecutors, accusing Hsu of leaking the confidential document by allowing the sensitive document to be photographed by the media.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the same day that the ministry was preparing to take legal proceedings against the KMT lawmaker.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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