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Retired Navy commander gets 6-year prison term for spy bid

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday sentenced a retired Navy commander to a six-year prison term over his attempt to serve as a Chinese spy, overturning the life sentence previously given by a military court.

According to the ruling, Chang Chih-hsin (張祉鑫), a former director of the Political Warfare Office at the Naval Meteorological & Oceanographic Office (METOC), was recruited by Chinese intelligence when he was serving as a director at outlying Kinmen Command in 2006.

During his time at the METOC in 2011, Chang was found to be applying for membership in the Chinese Communist Party via two former Taiwanese military personnel who served as Chinese spies, the ruling said.

The METOC is responsible for mapping the maritime areas surrounding Taiwan.

In 2010 and 2011, Chang and his wife were given free trips to Cebu in the Philippines and Malaysia by the two spies.

Chang invited Navy officers he knew on the trips, along with their families, in an attempt to recruit more current and former military personnel to pass military secrets to Beijing, according to the ruling.

In return for his service, Chang was given US$3,900.

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 trials, Chang's case is now being handled by the Kaohsiung court.

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