Four months in a Republic of China in-exile punishment cell have taken a heavy toll on sixty-seven year-old Roger Lin, who is suffering from progressive prostate cancer. A tearful Lin told Taoyuan District Judge Yi-Shan Yao that he was being denied medical treatment and that he was forced to live on the floor of his tiny cell where he is denied visitors and contact with the outside world. Lin is the founder and leader of Taiwan Civil Government which advocates expelling the ROC regime which has imprisoned him. Lin faces a lengthy prison sentence under the Organized Crime Prevention Act and the Money Laundering Control Act.
Roger Lin is accused of masterminding an elaborate international political fraud ring, a decade in the making, with false claims about the future of the exiled Chinese government now ruling the island. Supposedly unsophisticated donors were allegedly duped with political double-talk into parting with their money.
Between tears at a Sept. 13 hearing, Roger Lin urged the presiding judge to drop charges against five other TCG defendants. Frequently wiping his eyes, Lin told the court the dispute was between him and the exiled Chinese government he seeks to send back to China. A three member prosecution team likened Lin and the others as “political rodents” with fictional political influence. Lin supporters in the courtroom were sobbing at the somber scene as the “Secretary-General” sought to maintain his dignity.
Chief ROC prosecutor Li-Hoa Chu sees money seized during midnight raids in May 2018 as evidence of wrong-doing because the funds were stored in a cabinet instead of a bank. Thought to be the TCG war chest, Julian Lin, wife of Roger, claims most of the money was hers and not money donated by group members. Seized in the midnight raid were large sums of currency: $134 million NT, $50,000 USD, and 2,000 Euros.
Lin plead not guilty to fraud and money-laundering charges. Lin told the judge he felt Taiwan Civil Government was the future of Taiwan and that he had been working on that goal for twelve years.
Lin was questioned about the validity of the TCG identity card and any claims made about the card. Lin stressed he “never said that alone the identity card can enter Customs.” Rather, that a ROC passport was still needed, however there will be much identity card courtesy by Customs officers.
The judge asked Lin if Taiwan Civil Government advocated a United States military government occupation of Taiwan. Lin answered, “Yes.”
Lin elaborated the Department of Defense was responsible under the San Francisco Peace Treaty and that Japan recognized the United States military in Japan including Taiwan. Lin explained that at the end of World War II the Taiwanese were Japanese nationals under colonial rule.
The judge asked if the United States had a military presence in Taiwan. Lin answered the American Institute on Taiwan has raised the American flag and uniformed Marines now guard the State Department facility.
Lin said the Justice Department consented to the Taiwan Civil Government by accepting the registration of Global Vision Communications as a Foreign Agent for TCG in the United States. When asked if the United States authorized TCG to issue identity cards Lin answered that the group delegations have used the cards in the United States unimpeded.
The judge pressed Lin if the United States authorized the TCG identity card. Lin replied, “No.” Lin explained that Taiwan Civil Government Foundation was established which was to be linked to a Bank of America account to enable TCG members holding the identity card to use them as valid documents to conduct banking in the United States.
Lin was asked about TCG’s vanity license plates. Lin said the plates were to be used concurrently with the ROC issued plates for liaison purposes. In 2016, Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung declared the license plates a “violation of law and order” and said the plates and identification cards had no “legal validity.” The mayor called on the ROC to respond to the issue, however the Ministry of Interior declined to act citing freedom of speech. Vehicles continued to need official ROC license plates and the TCG plates could not be installed in violation of traffic code regulations.
The judge asked Lin why Taiwan Civil Government does not directly open a bank account in Taiwan to which Lin replied that TCG had not registered as an organization with the ROC government.
Defense attorney Chen-Hsing Chang told the court that “money laundering” applied only when the source of the money was illegal. Commenting on firearms seized in the May raid, Chang said the weapons were legal and belonged to the Black Bear squad, TCG’s paramilitary unit. Chang said TCG’s views on the status of Taiwan were clearer than religion thus eliminating any element of treachery.
Chang said at present TCG had 38,000 members and only three hundred of them were classified as victims. Of the supposed victims, Chang asserted only sixty-six were actual complainants, less than two thousandths of the members.
Defense attorney Chun-Lung Chen said Lin was not guilty and had a constitutional right under the ROC constitution to freedom of expression and association. Chen argued that Lin’s incommunicado pretrial detention was a violation of both freedom of expression and Lin’s right to defend himself and that he presented no flight risk. Chen said Lin was being arbitrarily detained on speculation.
Prosecutors have carefully avoided alleging a breach of national security or treason charges for establishing a “civil government” and Lin’s frequent pronouncements that the Republic of China in-exile is not the legally recognized government of Taiwan. Such a prosecution would evoke the four decades of martial law suffered under the ROC by the Taiwanese people and give Lin public support unavailable to him if he is seen as a scam artist.
Although Roger Lin was granted no other relief, Judge Yi-Shan Yao did order hospital treatment of Lin while in custody. A TCG member who claims to have seen Lin taken to a hospital said Lin was handcuffed and shackled while being transported.
Some information comes from an online report by citizen reporter Lin Shan-feng who was present in the courtroom.