Taipei, May 31 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) has retained a lawyer to appeal a Taiwan High Court ruling that sentenced him to four months in prison for leaking classified information in 2013, his office said Thursday.
In a statement, the office said Ma's decision to appeal was based on the many holes in the High Court ruling, which overturned a lower court verdict.
On May 15, the High Court found Ma guilty of leaking classified information related to the investigation of senior opposition lawmaker Ker Chien-ming (???) of the Democratic Progressive Party while the probe was in progress in September 2013.
After the High Court verdict was issued, Ma said he would "definitely appeal" the verdict because it infringed on his executive power under the Constitution, which gives the president the right to handle a dispute between two or more of the five government branches.
The case goes back to September 2013 when it was disclosed that then-State Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (???) had shown Ma a transcript of wiretapped conversations that were part of evidence collected in an ongoing investigation of alleged breach of trust by Ker.
In the taped conversations, then Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (???) and Ker were heard talking about lobbying two senior justice officials, including then-Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu (???), to prevent any appeal of the breach of trust case in which Ker had first been found guilty and then acquitted on appeal.
According to prosecutors, Ma leaked the contents of the recording, Ker's personal information and other information related to the ongoing investigation to then Premier Jiang Yi-huah (???) and then Presidential Office Deputy Secretary General Lo Chih-chiang (???).
He also instructed Huang to leak the confidential information to Jiang, according to prosecutors.
In August 2017, the Taipei District Court acquitted Ma of the two charges, but prosecutors appealed the verdict.
In the appeal, the High Court overturned the verdict of the lower court, saying there was clear evidence that Ma had leaked confidential information to Jiang and Lo pertaining to the Ker investigation.
However, the High Court upheld the not guilty verdict on the charge relating to Ma instructing Huang to disclose the details of the investigation to Jiang.
According to Ma's office, the docket information about the case showed that Jiang and Lo said they had met with Ma on Aug. 3, 2013 and discussed Tseng's level of political responsibility and whether Tseng should resign.
Nonetheless, the High Court said in its ruling that the issue of whether Tseng should resign had not been discussed during the meeting, Ma's office said, adding that this was an indication that the High Court had not reviewed the docket thoroughly.
According to Taiwan's laws, leaking confidential information does not constitute a crime if it is done to protect public interests or for other correct reasons, Ma's office said.
Ma was doing what he should have done at the time -- responding to a potential constitutional crisis and social turmoil -- after he learned that Wang and Ker had been talking about lobbying justice officials, the office said.
Lobbying justice officials constitutes obstruction of justice and can hurt public interests, the office added.
Also on Thursday, prosecutors said they will not pursue a suit filed by lawyer Huang Di-ying (???), accusing Ma of violating the Communication Security and Surveillance Act and of dereliction of duty, a charge of which Ma had also been acquitted.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel