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September 25, 2017

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Former agent of MIB sentenced to 18 years over spying for China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former military intelligence agent Colonel Lo Chi-cheng (羅奇正) yesterday was sentenced to a 18-year prison term by the Taiwan High Court over allegations of spying for Beijing.

The high court also ruled Lo's public rights to be deprived for six years.

The Taiwan High Court overturned the Military Supreme Court's ruling, as Lo was previously sentenced to life in prison. The high court explained its ruling, saying that it reduced Lo's sentence on the grounds of that he had confessed his crimes and shown remorse. The ruling yesterday is subject to appeal, the court said.

Lo, who used to serve at the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) under the Ministry of National Defense (MND), was previously given a life sentence for colluding with a China-based Taiwanese businessman Lo Pin (羅斌), (not related to Lo), in order to gather confidential military information for China, according to the MND.

The high court said since January 2007 Lo Chi-cheng has received bribes and sold classified information to China. Lo even used "false intelligence" fed by China to obtain monetary rewards from Taiwan's authorities, the court said.

The Investigation Bureau began to monitor Lo after he was suspected of engaging in espionage for China. He was arrested on Oct. 31, 2010 when he was found handing a flash drive containing confidential military information to Lo Pin, the verdict said.

The Military High Court in 2011 ruled that the former MIB agent had seriously violated his duty to serve his country and should be severely punished by sentencing him to life imprisonment. All the bribes he received for his espionage activities, totaling US$180,000, plus HK$2.16 million and another NT$1 million, will be confiscated and returned to the national coffers.

The Taiwan High Court yesterday also ruled Lo Chi-cheng's ill-gotten gains to be confiscated and returned to the nation.

According to the Investigation Bureau, Lo Pin was originally recruited by Lo Chi-cheng in 2004 to help him retrieve classified information from China. However, the Taiwanese businessman was later arrested by Chinese security authorities during a trip to China in July 2006 after his identity was exposed.

In exchange for his release, Lo Pin made a deal to convince Lo to spy for China, the verdict read. Tempted by China's incentives, Lo began to work as a double agent. Lo Pin recently was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by the Supreme Court over the spying case.

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