Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) The Investigation Bureau on Friday referred a suspected case of state secret leaks, involving former Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao, to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office. Chang, who was removed from his post last week, is under investigation for allegedly violating the Classified National Security Information Protection Act, the bureau said. The bureau had planned to refer Chang's case to the High Court Prosecutors Office on a treason-related charge of "betraying a government-entrusted duty of conducting business with a foreign government," which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The charge would mean that Chang could be prosecuted and tried at the second level of Taiwan's three-tier judiciary system. After discussion with the High Court Prosecutors Office, however, it was determined that the charge may not apply in that case because Taiwan does not maintain "state-to-state relations" with China
, which means Beijing is not considered a "foreign government." The Taipei District Prosecutors Office did not immediately announce whether it would bring any formal charges against Chang.
Two officers from the national security division of the Investigation Bureau did not answer reporters' questions when they appeared at the prosecutors' office.
The Investigation Bureau has said it suspects that Chang was recruited by China as a spy and had leaked at least five "confidential" documents to Beijing. Chang, however, has insisted he is innocent and said the allegations signaled the return of the "white terror" era in Taiwan -- a reference to the Taiwanese government's sometimes violent persecution of dissidents during the period of martial law from 1949 to 1987. Until last week, Chang was Taiwan's deputy negotiator with China in his other capacity as vice chairman and secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, an organization responsible for the conduct of Taiwan's relations with China in the absence of official ties. (By Liu Shih-yi and Y.F. Low)