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September 24, 2017

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Prosecutors, judges have too much wiretapping power: officials

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Members of the Control Yuan yesterday complained that prosecutors with the right to wiretap telephones and judges who allow wiretapping are allowed too much power.

Control Yuan members Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬), Li Fu-dien (李復甸) and Lin Chu-liang (林鉅鋃) have been investigating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act ever since it was implemented, their investigation of the report was approved by the Control Yuan recently.

The report pointed out that there were three types of wiretapping that prosecutors were allowed to apply for permission to use, the first being a new case that has not been tapped before; the second is for previously tapped lines — the monitoring is extended after the prosecution is granted prolonged permission; and the third type is for new leads the prosecution has picked up after wiretapping the original suspects.

According to Li, some presiding judges are firm when it comes to the prosecution's application for permission to wiretap, "they refuse the prosecution in every case, so the prosecutors have learned to pick the easy-going judges."

Once a wiretap case is approved by the judge on duty, all extended monitoring is also approved by the same judge, even if he or she is not on duty, said Lee. If the said judge continues to approve of all extended cases, the prosecution will be granted permission to continue the wiretaps until they lose interest without fail, the report points out.

The prosecutor and judge teams are allowed a great amount of power and are thus able to continue all types of extended wiretaps without being restricted by the law; as long as the same duo are still in their positions, they are able to control the monitoring network forever and this may affect many innocent victims, the report stressed.

The report continues to note that the approval procedure that only involves one official — the judge on duty — has made the judges' power dictatorial; the process lacks a sense of morality.

The Control Yuan members also cited the communication security and surveillance laws of the United States, saying that the laws did not allow for the same judge to approve all extended cases that had stemmed from the original wiretapping case he or she had approved.

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