Friday, February 18, 2011

AIT confirms US role in major spy investigation

While Taiwan, with Washington’s help, conducts a probe in the nation’s worst spying scandal in 50 years, a source said the damage to the Taiwan-US alliance would be marginal

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday confirmed to the Taipei Times that US authorities are assisting Taiwan with an investigation into the activities of General Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲, left), who was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China.

Lo’s espionage activity, described as possibly the worst spy case to hit Taiwan in the past half century, is believed to have begun in 2004 when he was recruited by Chinese intelligence while he was posted in Thailand. News of the arrest sparked fears that Taiwan’s military might have been severely compromised, especially its command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, to which Lo is believed to have had access.

As the great majority of defense platforms used by Taiwan’s military are acquired from the US, there has also been speculation that the developments could have negative repercussions on US-Taiwan military relations at a time when US President Barack Obama’s administration already appears reluctant to release additional arms packages to Taipei.

One possible casualty, some analysts claim, could be the politically sensitive sale of F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan.

Following announcements by the military that a probe into Lo’s actions has been launched, AIT spokesperson Sheila Paskman told the Taipei Times by telephone that US authorities were assisting with the investigation, without specifying the level of assistance or which agency was involved.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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