Taiwanese officer gets 12 life terms for spying for China

Featured - February 8th, 2013

A Taiwanese court on Tuesday sentenced a former air force officer to 12 life prison terms for spying for China in the latest of several espionage cases that have dragged cross-strait relations.

Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Hsiao-feng was found guilty on 12 counts of leaking unspecified military secrets to China between 2001 and 2007, a High Court official said. Each of the charges carries a mandatory life term.

Chen Wen-jen, Yuan’s retired colleague, was also convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for acting as his accomplice. Both men have been detained since last year, when two junior colleagues turned them in to the authorities.

According to Taipei-based China Times, Beijing paid a hefty $269,000 for the secrets Yuan collected.

The case is the latest in a series of spying scandals between Taiwan and China, AFP reports. The two sides have spied on each other since they split in 1940 at the end of a civil war and persisted despite warming ties.

In 2011, an army general and chief of an intelligence unit was sentenced to life for intelligence gathering for China.

Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.