The case of a former top U.S. diplomat, who unlawfully removed classified documents from the State Department, does not affect long-term Taiwan-U.S. relations and damage control has been effective, David Lee (李大維), Taiwan's representative to the U.S., said at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
The local intelligence bureau also stressed that Taiwan's intelligence officials had not requested one of its intelligence officers, Isabelle Cheng, to seduce the former U.S. diplomat in an attempt to collect U.S. intelligence.
The People First Party legislative caucus urged officials to further investigate whether local intelligence had been leaked to the U.S. and demanded diplomatic officials issue a detailed report on the matter.
Donald W. Keyser, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of East Asian affairs, admitted in federal court that he concealed from his superiors the fact he had taken a trip to Taiwan last September, and had maintained an "undisclosed personal relationship" with 34-year-old Cheng.
He also admitted that he had taken confidential documents away from the State Department without first securing proper authorization. Keyser was arrested last year as he was delivering documents to officials of Taiwan's National Security Bureau (國安局).
According to the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, U.S. prosecutors gained copies of what are believed to be classified Taiwanese voice recordings and launched a probe into the case. American authorities subsequently were able to trace Keyser and the two Taiwan intelligence officials, the report said.
Yesterday, David Lee refused to comment on the case at the Legislature's Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee, reiterating that the situation is currently under investigation by U.S. authorities, and it would be improper for a Taiwanese diplomat to intervene.
PFP legislative leader Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), however, blasted Lee, saying that although it was a U.S. domestic case, it might also involve leaked Taiwanese intelligence and thus seriously affect Taiwan-U.S. relations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should further ascertain whether the copies of the voice recordings gained by the U.S. prosecutors are genuine and discover how the U.S. obtained the recordings in the first place, he continued.
He also demanded that MOFA give a detailed report on the matter before next Monday, or the PFP would freeze MOFA's budget, especially monies earmarked for the Department of North American Affairs.
Meanwhile, Chang and PFP Legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) asked how Taiwanese classified documents were delivered to U.S. prosecutors and asked whether the U.S. indulges in intelligence gathering on Taiwanese soil.
National Security Bureau Deputy Director General Huang Kuang-hsun denied that any Taiwanese classified documents had been leaked to the U.S. He explained that the tapes obtained by U.S. prosecutors were in fact Keyser's own recordings, as it was his custom as a diplomat to record meetings. The chance that the U.S. collected classified documents from Taiwan's intelligent agency is slim, he noted, despite admitting that the U.S. has collected "general" information on Taiwan for a long time.