Taiwan’s military said it had not received secrets from an American naval officer under investigation on suspicion of providing information to Taiwan or China.
Taiwan’s military denied any involvement on Tuesday in the case of a United States naval officer under investigation on suspicion of providing secret information to Taiwan or China.
The Navy is weighing charges of espionage against the officer, a naturalized American citizen born in Taiwan. Investigators believe that the officer, Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin, 39, may have given secret information to a Chinese girlfriend. He is also accused of visiting a prostitute, infidelity, not disclosing foreign travel and lying to investigators.
Maj. Gen. David Lo, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, said that American investigators had not contacted Taiwan so he was unfamiliar with the details of the case. But in a news conference on Tuesday, he denied that Taiwan would have pursued such spying.
“We have absolutely never used or exploited current or former U.S. military personnel to help with any intelligence gathering,” General Lo said.
China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the case.
Commander Lin moved to the United States at age 14, and the Navy has praised him as an immigrant success story. He attended Officer Candidate School and the United States War College and served as a flight officer, at the Pentagon and at the Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2 in Hawaii.
He is now in detention at the Navy Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Va., and awaiting a decision on whether he will face a full court-martial, United States officials said. The possible charges against him include spying for Taiwan, while allegations of spying for China remain under investigation.
Commander Lin’s work on Navy spy planes would have been of particular interest to foreign militaries. But while China, a rival and regular target of United States intelligence gathering, would have clear reasons for pursuing such information, Taiwan’s interests are less obvious.
Taiwan faces a long-term military threat from China, which considers the island part of its territory that must eventually be united. The United States is Taiwan’s biggest ally and a key provider of weaponry to resist China.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, such armaments must be defensive in nature. That means Taiwan is limited in what it can receive from the United States, which could be a motive for espionage, said Wu Shang-su, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who studies the Chinese military and security issues in Asia.
“Previously, they have had difficulty accessing technology because the U.S. government has not wanted to provide everything Taiwan requests,” Mr. Wu said.
Still, gaining access to military technology is “not a high priority for them,” he added.
Espionage efforts by China could also be channeled through Taiwan, he said. Taiwan’s military is the focus of intense Chinese spying efforts, and there have been several high-profile cases of officers providing information to China.
“Another possibility is that China has successfully penetrated Taiwan, and they use Taiwan as a cover,” Mr. Wu said.
In recent decades, the United States has had very few cases that hinted of intelligence activities by Taiwan. In 1991, Douglas S. Tsou, a former translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was convicted of disclosing classified information when he revealed the name of a Chinese spy to the authorities in Taiwan, exposing an informant. “I don’t like Communists,” he told a Houston court in explaining his actions.
Donald W. Keyser, a former senior State Department official, was sentenced to one year in prison in 2007 for concealing a personal relationship with an intelligence agent from Taiwan and keeping classified documents at his home. Mr. Keyser denied passing classified information to Taiwan and said he was working to further American interests by forging a channel of communication to Taiwan intelligence officers.
This article was written by Austin Ramzy from International New York Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.