A prominent Chinese dissident said Taiwan's previous government gave him money to promote democracy in his homeland, but the cash did not come from the pockets of the island's disgraced president.
Wang Dan wrote in Monday's edition of the mass circulation Apple Daily newspaper that he received an undisclosed amount of money from Taiwan's government during the 2000-2008 administration of President Chen Shui-bian.
"Mr. Chen Shui-bian provided financial support to China's democratic movement on behalf of the Republic of China," Wang wrote, using Taiwan's official name. "I would not have considered taking the money if it had come from Mr. Chen Shui-bian as a private individual."
Chen is currently serving a 17-year prison sentence after his conviction on a wide range of corruption charges.
Taiwan's government-owned Central News Agency reported Friday that Wang told a Taiwan court investigating allegations that Chen embezzled money from a special presidential fund that he received $400,000 from Chen via two wire transfers. The report implied that the money came from Chen personally.
Wang, who is currently teaching at a Taiwanese university, was one of the leaders of the 1989 protest movement in China that ended when security forces killed hundreds and possibly thousands of protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. He served some five years in prison in the 1990s and was exiled to the United States in 1998.
He did not respond to requests from The Associated Press for further comment.
Under Chen and predecessor Lee Teng-hui, democratic Taiwan offered strong support for Chinese dissidents, opening its doors to a number of prominent figures from the Tiananmen protest movement, including Wang and fellow student leader Wu'er Kaixi.
China reviled Chen for promoting formal independence for Taiwan, and during his second term, passed a law codifying the use of force against the island, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949.
It has a much better relationship with current President Ma Ying-jeou, who has made lowering tensions across the 100-mile- (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait the centerpiece of his administration.
While Ma has spoken out in favor of improving human rights on the mainland, he has been careful to do nothing to rankle Beijing, including denying visa requests from a number of prominent figures China dislikes.
Asked by the AP if Ma was following in Chen's footsteps in supporting Chinese democracy activists, presidential spokesman Lo Chih-chiang sidestepped the question, saying only that Ma's use of the special presidential fund was "strictly according to law."