Apache photo investigation continues

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office yesterday continued to conduct investigations on the ongoing Apache photo scandal case at the Army Special Forces 601 Brigade.

The scandal was brought to light after local presenter and socialite Janet Lee posted a picture of herself sitting in an AH-64E Apache, an assault chopper that was recently acquired from the United States and has sensitive equipment not meant for the public eye.

The photo was taken during a trip that was led by Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng , who is a friend of Lee's. Reportedly, Lao took 20 people, including the socialite and her family, into the maintenance hangar of the Apaches during a visitation hour for a brief tour.

Lao later proceeded to let Lee enter the Apache to take photos, and also let Lee and her husband put on one of the helmets made for the operation of the helicopter.

The various actions conducted by the lieutenant colonel violated the information security protocols of the military, which resulted in Army Command Headquarters (ACH) announcing various disciplinary actions to penalize five officers for negligence.

Following the ACH's announcement, the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office continued to investigate the case regarding the degree of violation of the Vital Area Regulations and the Classified National Security Information Protection Act, the Central News Agency reported.

Crucial evidence was then retrieved from the Army Special Forces Command/Airborne yesterday, such as the surveillance footage from around the hangar in question.

During the investigation, the prosecution also interviewed two servicemen who were in charge of the surveillance equipment surrounding the Apache hangar.

In response to the prosecutors' investigative actions, the military stated that it will do everything in its power to co-operate, and will enable the prosecution to conduct searches to their wish.

Four out of 13 with Imposed Travel Restrictions have Already Departed

As part of the investigation, the prosecution has also ordered the 13 adult individuals involved in the case - including Lee, her husband and other related persons who visited the hangar - to be prohibited from leaving the country, considering that the cameras and smartphones of the adults might contain highly classified photos of the area and the choppers, CNA reported.

However, though the prosecution had aimed to issue the order as soon as possible, four of the 13 adults have already reportedly left the country.

Ciou Tai-han and Wang Jyun-yi, a known business couple, had left for the United States of March 31. A woman with the last name Lai and a man with the last name Ciou had also left the country for Japan and Hong Kong respectively in April 2, meaning that the prosecution was only able to limit the travel rights of nine adults.