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Taiwan Denies Trying To Hire Lee

January 11, 2000

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ U.S. nuclear weapons scientist Wen Ho Lee lectured at a Taiwanese military institute two years ago but never worked as a consultant for the research center, officials said Tuesday.

Lee, accused of copying U.S. classified nuclear data, gave academic lectures about routine subjects unrelated to nuclear secrets, military spokesman Kung Fan-ding told reporters.

Kung denied a Washington Post report last month that said the military hired the Taiwan-born Lee as a consultant at its Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, where the scientist spoke in March and December 1998.

The Post on Dec. 31 reported that U.S. authorities, who are investigating whether Lee provided secrets to China, have expanded their probe to include Lee’s ties with Taiwan.

Kung said the military’s contact with Lee only involved inviting him to lecture about the mechanics of armor piercing and bulletproof materials.

The military spokesman said Taiwan does not have nuclear weapons and has no plans to build them.

Lee is being held in New Mexico without bail for allegedly copying classified nuclear data to computer tapes, seven of which are missing.

He has pleaded innocent to 59 counts under the U.S. Atomic Energy and Espionage Acts. If convicted, the former employee of the Los Alamos National Laboratory could face life in prison.

In June, Attorney General Janet Reno told Congress that Lee had been investigated more than a decade earlier for his links to Taiwanese officials.

During that probe, Lee admitted giving unclassified nuclear information to Taiwanese officials, Reno said.

Reno said Lee’s ties with Taiwan as well as his reputation as being pro-Taiwan and anti-China raised questions about whether Lee would spy for China.

Update hourly