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Taiwanese ex-legislative candidate indicted for alleged collaboration with China in election bid

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Taipei | March 2, 2024 3:56:17 AM IST
Former independent legislative candidate Ma Chih-wei has been officially indicted by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office on charges related to alleged collaboration with China during her candidacy preparations for Taiwan's elections held on January 13, Focus Taiwan reported.

The indictment accuses Ma of violating the Anti-Infiltration Act, National Security Act, and Personal Data Protection Act, seeking a 44-month prison term and a fine of NTD2 million (USD63,231).

Ma, who has been in custody since January 5, faced allegations of passing information to China and receiving financial support in connection with her election campaign. The indictment points to violations of the Anti-Infiltration Act, designed to prevent interference by "foreign hostile forces" in Taiwan, as Ma allegedly accepted funds from an "infiltrative entity" to finance her election bid, according to Focus Taiwan.

The National Security Act charges stem from Ma allegedly sharing "Taiwanese intelligence and other election-related information" with her Chinese benefactors. Prosecutors claim that during a trip to China in April 2023, the 40-year-old established connections with individuals involved in Taiwan affairs. Subsequent discussions between the parties reportedly involved exchanging political intelligence on Taiwan for financial support.

Ma's interactions continued with multiple visits between Taiwan and China, resulting in remittances, including cryptocurrency payments.

The indictment outlines transactions totaling about NTD1 million, with Ma allegedly providing a confidential book to her handlers. The book contained sensitive information such as job titles, names, and phone numbers of officials in the Presidential Office, Executive Yuan, and National Security Bureau.

Despite Ma finishing third in the election with 8.56 per cent of the vote, prosecutors assert that she received instructions from her Chinese contacts on how to conduct her campaign. The Taiwan People's Party (TPP), of which Ma was a member and Taoyuan chapter spokesperson in 2023, disassociated from her after she failed to secure official support and subsequently registered as an independent candidate.

Due to Ma's refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing and her lack of cooperation during the investigation, the prosecutors recommended a more severe sentence to the Taoyuan District Court, where she is currently detained.

Ma's expulsion from the TPP followed her detention on January 6, further isolating her from the party. TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je had initially considered endorsing Ma as a TPP candidate but withdrew support after she registered independently, Focus Taiwan reported. (ANI)

 
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