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Spy informant may get NT$3 mil. reward

The China Post--An informant who offered information that led to a crackdown on espionage activities within the military could receive a reward of NT$3 million, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.

The MND's announcement comes amid a high-profile spy case that involves former naval official Chang Chih-hsin (張祉鑫) and several retired officers who were arrested in September for allegedly passing military secrets to Beijing.

Chang and others are accused of delivering confidential nautical charts to the Chinese mainland, posing a serious threat to national security, local media reports said.

The MND said the case is being investigated by prosecutors but initial probes showed no confidential military intelligence was leaked to Beijing via Chang.

However, the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday said the MND was only able to crack down on the alleged espionage activities because of the recommencement of a cash-reward system that offers a rewards for informants.

Asked to comment, military spokesman Luo Shou-he yesterday confirmed that his ministry will give money to a whistleblower once the case is closed and it has been determined that the informant's information was crucial in achieving the crackdown.

The maximum reward is NT$3 million, he added.

This reward system was reportedly suspended for more than two decades. It was only reinstalled this year, the Apple Daily said.

Asked to comment why Chang is allowed to travel to China even though he was privy to classified information before his retirement, Luo said the MND is willing to review the scope of travel bans for retired military personnel to determine if there exist any national security loopholes.

There is currently a ban on travel to China for retired military personnel who had access to confidential military intelligence during their service.

The extent of travel restrictions is based on the person's rank and on the level of sensitivity of information the person was exposed to.

No Confidential File Leaked: Defense Minister

Meanwhile, on a separate occasion, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu yesterday said Chang was not privy to classified military information during his service in the Navy and the information he allegedly leaked to China mostly concerned local forces' missions to safeguard fishermen's rights in waters around the country.

The information he allegedly leaked to China was not classified as top secret and would not pose a threat to the country, he said in response to an opposition lawmaker's question in the Legislature.

Chang was a former director of the Political Warfare Office at the Naval Meteorological & Oceanographic Office.

The office is responsible for mapping maritime areas surrounded Taiwan.

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