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Egg-import whistleblower says he faked death threats to 'get off the hook'

10/03/2023 08:19 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA) Agricultural blogger Lin Yu-hung (林裕紘) on Tuesday claimed he had enlisted the help of a friend to send him hoax death threats demanding he stop reporting on controversies related to a government-funded egg import program in a bid to "get off the hook."

"I'm sorry, I made a mistake. I sincerely apologize to all my friends who trusted and cared for me," Lin wrote in a social media post.

Lin, who claimed to have been a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since 2020, said that he enlisted the help of friend and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) staffer Hsu Che-pin (許哲賓) to send the death threats as he could no longer bear the stress reporting on agricultural issues after being the target of numerous smears.

According to local media reports, Lin is currently in Austria, having left Taiwan after police in Taoyuan arrested Hsu.

In a statement, the Taiwan Taoyuan District Court said that Hsu was being held incommunicado on suspicion of intimidation and forgery of private documents.

The court stated that Hsu's detention is necessary to prevent him and others from destroying evidence and fabricating testimony, particularly as prosecutors have not talked to those suspected of providing Hsu with login information and other technological support.

According to police, Hsu allegedly sent the threat to Lin on Sept. 21 at a cafe in New Taipei, using an Internet Protocol registered in Mexico after discussing the hoax with Lin online.

Police said those found guilty of creating a fake internet account to blackmail others could face up to five years in prison.

Lin's apparent hoax is just the latest bizarre turn for the government-funded egg import program, which has already seen police raids of food companies accused of falsifying country-of-origin labeling, a revelation that 54 million of the program's 145 million imports were destroyed after expiring while in storage, and bomb threats against several media organizations and government agencies.

The controversy and as-yet-unanswered questions regarding the program's true cost prompted the resignation of Agricultural Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Sept. 19, and an apology from Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Sept. 22 for "defects" in the program's execution.

In response to Tuesday's development, KMT Policy Committee head Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) apologized for the incident, calling it a result of Hsu's "careless choosing of friends."

The KMT announced that it has decided to fire Hsu, who works on the committee and is responsible for compiling daily media reports for party policymakers.

In a press release, the KMT also said it was shocked to learn about the news, stressing that it condemns forgery.

It remains unclear, however, if subsequent bomb threats received by various government agencies and two news organizations, including the Central News Agency, had anything to do with Lin.

Meanwhile, in a press released Tuesday, DPP spokesman Chang Chih-hao (張志豪) alleged that Lin joined the DPP in March 2020 “for specific political purposes” and said the party will revoke Lin’s party membership.

Chang said Lin had continued to criticize DPP’s Changhua legislative candidate Wu Yin-ning (吳音寧) and former Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) since 2018, using agricultural issues to “manipulate public opinion.” 

(By Kao Hua-chien, Wang Cheng-chung, Liu Kuan-ting, Yeh Chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)


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