Zhou Hongxu – who is accused of being the first Chinese student spy in Taiwan after the island’s tertiary institutions started admitting students from across the strait in 2011 – claimed during his second trial in the Taiwan High Court on Thursday that investigators and prosecutors coerced him to confess and that he was subjected to mistreatment.
Zhou, who hails from China’s northeastern Liaoning province, has been studying for an MBA degree at the National Chengchi University in Taipei since September 2012. He graduated in February this year but remained on the island after obtaining a working visa.
The court was told that Zhou was approached by a Communist Party official during an exchange semester in Shanghai in July 2014 and enticed to be part of the mainland’s security apparatus with an offer of pecuniary backing to develop a network on the island.
Zhou was tasked with bribing and infiltrating Taiwan’s civil servants, notably those within the military, police force, intelligence and foreign affairs departments. His primary target was a young Taiwan diplomat and he allegedly offered to pay him NT$300,000 (US$10,000) per season for tips.
Zhou also promised the diplomat handsome payment for trips abroad to Japan and Singapore to meet Chinese officials.
The spy was tracked down in March before he flew back to the mainland, after the diplomat tipped off Taiwanese security agents.
Authorities on the mainland were notified about Zhou’s arrest and he was given 14 months in custody by the Taipei District Court in September.
Both the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office and Zhou’s defense lawyer subsequently appealed the ruling, Taipei Times reported.
Zhou said during the trial on Thursday that investigators and prosecutors used scare tactics to get him to confess. He demanded an open trial and “reform” of the island’s judiciary.
“The prosecutor viciously intimidated me,” he claimed.
Zhou’s lawyer said investigators told Zhou that if he confessed, he would be allowed to return to China after serving two or three months in prison.
Zhou was detained for more than eight months before the second trial.