Asia-Pacific

Taiwan spy case: General Lo Hsien-che 'had China links'

Lo Hsien-che pictured in 2008
Image caption Gen Lo Hsien-che is Taiwan's most senior officer accused of espionage since the 1960s

Military prosecutors say they have indicted a senior Taiwanese general on suspicion of spying for China.

The defence ministry claims that Maj Gen Lo Hsien-che began passing military intelligence to China in 2004, and was paid $150,000 (£92,000) in exchange.

Maj Gen Lo - Taiwan's highest-ranking officer allegedly involved in espionage in decades - has been in detention since February.

Prosecutors said they would be seeking a life sentence.

Maj Gen Lo is alleged to have been recruited by China while he was stationed in Thailand between 2002 and 2005. He was promoted to major-general after his return to Taiwan.

At the time of his arrest earlier this year, he was head of the military command's communications and information office.

Details of the Taiwanese state secrets Maj Gen Lo is alleged to have passed to the government in China have not been revealed.

But local media are reporting he leaked information about an integrated command, communications and control network that Taiwan was establishing with the US.

Taiwan's defence ministry says Maj Gen Lo's activities have harmed Taiwan's interests and security, and had a big impact on the military's reputation and morale.

Prosecutors initially wanted to seek capital punishment for Maj Gen Lo, but now seem more likely to seek a sentence of life imprisonment as they claim he has confessed and turned over the funds he had received, says the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei.

The case has shocked Taiwan, our correspondent says.

Maj Gen Lo is the most senior Taiwanese officer accused of espionage since the 1960s when a vice-defence minister was arrested amid a crackdown on communist spies.

Critics say his alleged connection with China and the fact it took several years to detect has revealed a security loophole.

Tensions have run high between the two sides since 1949, when Taiwan was separated from China at the end of a civil war.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to use force if the island ever moved to declare formal independence.

But there has been an unprecedented warming in relations since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

Despite this, officials insist there has been no reduction in spying by China, our correspondent says.

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