TAIPEI - A retired R.O.C. Navy commander was yesterday given a 15-year prison term for serving as a Chinese spy as the Taiwan Supreme Court announced its final verdict in the high-profile espionage case.
Chang Chih-hsin, a former manager at the Naval Meteorological & Oceanographic Office (METOC), was given the severe punishment after spying for the Chinese government during his tenure as a senior R.O.C. Navy official, according to the Supreme Court verdict.
METOC is responsible for mapping the maritime areas surrounding Taiwan.
During Chang's tenure as head of METOC between November 2008 and May 2012, he participated in three free trips to the Philippines and Malaysia offered by another former member of the Taiwan military surnamed Chien.
Chien worked for Chinese intelligence as part of a cross-strait espionage ring that recruited active and retired Taiwanese military personnel to collect confidential information for the Chinese government, said the verdict. He is currently serving a three-year jail term following another case.
During these free trips, Chang received a total of US$3,900 (S$5,120) in exchange for information he passed to the Chinese authorities, the court said.
It is believed that Chang passed confidential nautical charts that show maritime areas and adjacent coastal regions of Taiwan waters and related information on Taiwan's submarine project to the Chinese mainland.
Chang later managed to persuade a number of serving Taiwanese military personnel to join free trips to Malaysia and other countries during which they met with Chinese intelligence officers to pass military secrets to Beijing, the CIB said.
Chang was also found to be applying for membership of the Chinese Communist Party via two Taiwanese military personnel who served as Chinese spies, it added.
The verdict stressed that Chang should have known better than to pass confidential military information to the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
Though the information he passed to China did not cause major damage to Taiwan, Chang was given the long jail term as he helped an enemy state collect confidential data, it added.
The Military Court previously handed out a life sentence to Chang.
Following an overhaul of the court-martial system last July when all judicial cases involving military personnel were handed over to civilian courts for trial, Chang's case was transferred to a Kaohsiung court.
The Kaohsiung High Court previously sentenced Chang to 15 year imprisonment. He appealed the case, but the Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Kaohsiung court's decision.