Government agencies said yesterday that they are working with the UK on the deportation of a fugitive Taiwanese military officer and reiterated that the officer’s long stay in the UK was for personal reasons rather than a defection.
Emily Yeh (葉玫), an officer in the Military Intelligence Bureau, was detained at an immigration center in Bedfordshire, England, on Tuesday after being detained by the UK Border Agency for illegal immigration, the Central New Agency (CNA) quoted British newspaper the South Wales Argus as saying yesterday.
Taiwan’s representative office in London received a notification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July last year that the 33-year-old was to be listed as a fugitive after she entered the UK under the bilateral visa waiver program, but overstayed the maximum 180 days, the report said.
The CNA report quoted Taiwan’s Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-hsun (沈呂巡) as saying that Yeh did not hold a valid visa at the time she was investigated by the UK Border Agency and her request for an extended stay had been rejected.
Shen said his office is working with the UK government on Yeh’s deportation, the report said.
Yeh has been absent without official leave since June 24 last year and she was listed as a fugitive on June 29, the Military Intelligence Bureau said in a press release issued yesterday, adding that the first lieutenant had expressed her wish to be discharged from her service early due to difficulty in adjusting to a military environment.
“The bureau assessed that Yeh could try to resort to illegal means to discharge herself from the military,” it said.
Yeh’s flight from Taiwan to the UK was considered “a fugitive act by which she intended to leave her post for an extended period of time” for personal reasons, rather than a defection as has been reported by several media outlets, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said yesterday.
A report published yesterday by the Chinese-language Apple Daily cited Yeh as saying that she decided to leave the military because “my comrades and superiors made fun of my age from day one” and she had been “treated as a weirdo.”
A friend of Yeh was quoted as saying that the officer, who is in her 30s and was older than her comrades, decided to work for the bureau after returning to Taiwan from the US, but never thought that her age and her “American style” would be considered strange.
The complete interview is set to be published today, the Apple Daily said.
Yeh, who has been volunteering for the charity Oxfam and as an interpreter for the Welsh Refugee Council, has been seeking asylum in the UK, the South Wales Argus reported on Wednesday.
Yeh’s friends lodged a protest outside a police station last weekend, calling for Yeh to be allowed to stay, the report said.