'The Slaughter' author leaves Taiwan after high-profile visit

2018/10/08 22:54:37 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Ethan Gutmann

Ethan Gutmann

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) American writer and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann offered a quote by English novelist George Orwell before leaving Taiwan on Monday to summarize his controversial week-long visit here.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear," Gutmann said while answering reporters' questions before boarding a flight at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

He further said he would take responsibility for his book and his remarks, referring to the dispute he caused by calling Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) "a liar" at a press conference in Taipei on Oct. 2.

The author of the 2014 book "The Slaughter" accused Ko, a surgeon at National Taiwan University Hospital before being elected Taipei mayor in 2014, of acting as an intermediary for rich Taiwanese seeking to receive organ transplants in China.

Gutmann also said Ko "indirectly" encouraged organ harvesting from Falun Gong members by promoting the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technique in China.

Ko promoted the life-support technique even though he knew many of the organs were harvested from downtrodden Falun Gong members using ECMO technology, Gutmann said.

The accusations led the mayor to file a defamation suit against Gutmann at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Thursday.

Asked about the dispute, Gutmann said everything he said in Taiwan was related to medicine, and reiterated that he did not describe Ko as an "organ broker" but rather as an intermediary.

He said he was treated fairly while being questioned at the prosecutors office over the past few days, where he was offered assistance by a professional interpreter.

Despite having been tired during the probe, he said he felt Taiwan's judicial investigation system was efficient.

Gutmann arrived in Taiwan on Oct. 1 to promote publication of the Chinese edition of his book "The Slaughter" about mass killings, organ harvesting and China's secret solution to its dissident problem.

Saying he knows he is a controversial figure here and understands that many Taiwanese do not like to have foreigners tell them things that hit home, he insisted he was sincere and honest on the issue of organ harvesting, Gutmann said.

(By Wu Rui-chi and Elizabeth Hsu)

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