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September 26, 2017

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1 questioned on suspicion of MRT paralysis attempt

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei City Police Department said yesterday that a man surnamed Chou was being questioned after he allegedly called on netizens to paralyze the Taipei Metro.

Following anti-nuclear energy protesters' unexpected occupation of Zhongxiao E. Road on Tuesday, netizens initiated an online event calling on 100,000 people to occupy and paralyze the transit system.

Taipei police said Chou, who resides in Chiayi County (嘉義縣), allegedly called on netizens to participate in the protest via a post on his Facebook page. Police said Chou's post went viral and was forwarded by over 700 people.

To prevent the protest from happening, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said that the city government will do everything in its power to ensure the safety and travel rights of all MRT passengers.

At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Taipei police arrived at Chou's residence and requested that he accompany them for questioning. However, Chou refused to be questioned during the nighttime.

Taipei police then stayed overnight in Chiayi County and again requested that Chou accompany them for questioning in Taipei yesterday morning. The 36-year-old later arrived in Taipei with a police escort.

Chou was quoted by the United Evening News as saying that he was not the initiator of the event, stressing that he found the proposal "interesting" so he shared it on his Facebook page after becoming aware of it via other sources.

According to the United Evening News, before getting into a police car, Chou told reporters that "someone has to shoulder the responsibility."

Police said that, nevertheless, according to an initial investigation, there is no evidence to show Chou had forwarded the event proposal from another source.

In a post on Chou's Facebook page, it says that the busiest part of Taipei City is not Zhongxiao W. Road, but Taipei Metro. The post said the MRT should be fully occupied by around 100,000 protesters, adding that it would not be possible to disperse them by using water cannons in the MRT.

The police stated that the attempt to paralyze the MRT could potentially be in violation of Criminal Code Articles 153 and 185. The breaking of the former could lead to two years' imprisonment, criminal detention or a fine of NT$1,000, while breaking the latter could lead to five years' imprisonment, criminal detention or a fine of NT$500.

The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC) said that there were no unusual patterns of behavior on the MRT yesterday.

The TRTC further explained that around 398,000 passengers took the metro between yesterday morning and noon, noting that this represented 32,000 passengers more than between those times on the same day last year.

The firm said, however, given that the Xinyi Line was not operational in May 2013, this did not represent an unusual development.

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