Taiwan detains retired military intelligence colonel in China spy scandal

Chang allegedly recruited retired colleagues to pass documents to Chinese security officials

Retired MIB Colonel Chang Chao-jan (center)

Retired MIB Colonel Chang Chao-jan (center) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taipei court on Wednesday (Oct. 21) ordered the detention of a retired military intelligence colonel in connection with allegations that he and three former colleagues passed on secrets to China.

Prosecutors accused Chang Chao-jan (張超然) of having introduced other former Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) officials to Chinese security agents as potential sources for classified information. The Taipei District Court agreed with the prosecutors’ explanation that he posed a flight risk or might collude to destroy evidence, thus ordering his detention, CNA reported.

Two other suspects, former Major General Yueh Chih-chung (岳志忠) and retired Colonel Chou Tien-tzu (周天慈) were each freed on bail of NT$150,000 (US$5,200) early Wednesday morning following questioning.

In 2013, Chang accompanied another retired MIB colonel surnamed Fu (傅) on a flight to China to meet Chinese national security officials. Chang, Yueh, and Chou traveled to China several times between 2016 and 2018, with Chou on one occasion asking Yueh to hand over documents to the other side.

Speaking to the media, Chang claimed that in 1989, he was the only Taiwanese secret agent present in Beijing during the Tiananmen massacre. He maintained his innocence, while cable station TVBS reported he had a son and daughter who were also active in Taiwan’s intelligence community.

Under the National Intelligence Services Act, the retired agent risks a maximum prison term of seven years, CNA reported.

The revelations come as China has accused several Taiwanese citizens as spies, though most of the allegations have been dismissed as less-than-reliable Chinese propaganda.