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Taiwan former president charged over secret leaks

Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou was slapped with new charges on Tuesday in a political leaks controversy, just weeks before he faces possible conviction in another related case.

While still in office Ma was protected by political immunity.

But since he stepped down as leader in May last year he has been hit with a range of corruption and other allegations.

Ma’s Beijing-friendly Kuomintang held power from 2008 to 2016, before they were trounced by Tsai Ing-wen and her opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

Taipei prosecutors acting on behalf of the government charged Ma Tuesday with leaking secrets about a confidential judicial probe into the island’s then premier Jiang Yi-huah and an aide in 2013.

They also accused him of instructing a top prosecutor to disclose confidential information to Jiang.

The 2013 investigation at the heart of the controversy was looking into whether the parliamentary speaker at the time – a political rival of Ma – had influenced a case against an opposition lawmaker.

“Even though Ma has declared he was unaware of and would not interfere with (an ongoing probe), he leaked information that should have been kept confidential,” said Chang Chieh-chin, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

Ma was indicted for violating the communication security and surveillance act, which carries a maximum three-year jail term.

He has already appeared in court three times over separate charges brought by a lawmaker relating to leaks about the same judicial probe.

That lawsuit accuses Ma of asking the then prosecutor-general to leak secrets to him about the investigation. The verdict is due later this month. (AFP)

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