Defense ministry denies allegation of another security breach

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense said Thursday that an alleged irregularity at an Army base in Taichung five years ago did not amount to a security breach because the base was open to visitors at the time. The ministry was responding to allegations by Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (???), who said Wednesday that an incident similar to the recent one involving a military helicopter pilot had occurred in 2010 at a Taichung base, where AH-1W attack helicopters were stationed. Lee said a high ranking officer in the Army 10th Corps had taken his riends, including government officials and private sector executives, to the base to see an AH-1W helicopter, the most advanced weapon of its kind in Taiwan's armed forces at the time. That was a breach of security by the Army's 602nd Aviation Brigade, Lee said, displaying a photo that he said showed the visitors on the military base. But Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he (???) said at a news conference Thursday that there was no violation of military security because the visitors were at the base on an open day. He said Lee's photo showed a "group of visitors posing in front of a helicopter, and a pilot sitting in the cockpit." Thursday's allegations followed scandals involving an Army pilot who gave his friends and relatives access to the country's most advanced attack helicopter, the AH-64E Apache, in violation of military regulations. Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (???), a pilot in the Army's 601st Aviation Brigade, was found to have brought the group of people, including TV hostess Janet Lee (???), her relatives and friends, to see the Apaches at their base in Longtan on March 29 without approval from his superiors. Some of the visitors even boarded an Apache to take photos. The case came to light after Lee posted four photos of the tour on her Facebook page, including one of her in the chopper's cockpit. It was also found that Lao had not returned an Apache flight helmet after a training mission last October, but rather had worn it as part of a Halloween costume at a party at his home, according to a Defense Ministry investigation. Lao has since been removed from his post as deputy head of a helicopter squadron in Taoyuan under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, while the head of the Army Aviation Special Forces Command has also been removed and other high-level officers, including Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yen De-fa (???) and Army Commander Gen. Chiu Kuo-cheng (???), have been penalized. At Thursday's press conference, Luo also addressed local media reports that another pilot in the 601st Aviation Brigade had taken visitors to the Taoyuan base on March 29. Luo said there was no security breach in that case because the pilot had obtained the necessary permission to take the visitors there. Meanwhile, he said, Lao is considering taking legal action over the circulation on the Internet of a video purporting to show him engaged in inappropriate behavior at a night club. Lao has said that the person in the video is not him, according to Luo. (By Elaine Hou)