Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Lee fails to end citizenship row

RENOUNCED? Although the former legislator had promised to prove she had given up US citizenship, her lawyer said she no longer needed to because she had resigned

Chen Hsiao-yi  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Diane Lee (李慶安), who previously promised to prove the nullification of her US citizenship by Jan. 31, failed to present any evidence by the deadline on Saturday.

Lee, who was sworn into her fourth legislative term on Feb. 1 last year, resigned from her post last month after more than 300 days of speculation about dual citizenship.

Lee Yun-ran (李永然), Diane Lee’s attorney, said on Saturday that the former legislator was no longer obliged to present the documentation by Saturday — one year after assuming office, as stipulated in the Nationality Act (國籍法) — because she had resigned.

Lee Yun-ran said he would contact his client to check on the progress of the US State Department’s review of the document.

Diane Lee was unavailable for comment.

The former legislator found herself surrounded by controversy when accusations surfaced last March that she had not renounced her US citizenship.

At the time, Diane Lee said she had obtained her US citizenship 20 years ago and that she had “automatically” given up her US citizenship when she took an oath to become a Taipei City councilor in 1994.

Amid the controversy, Diane Lee applied for a document proving the loss of her US citizenship with the US State Department.

In the meantime, the legislature also asked for the assistance of the State Department through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to probe the nationality status of all of the 113 lawmakers.

The ministry received an answer from the US on Nov. 26, but did not release it to the legislature until Dec. 24, at which time a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator made it public.

The State Department said that Lee “has previously been documented as a US citizen with a US passport and … no subsequent loss of US citizenship has been documented.”

But Diane Lee said that the State Department had not completed the review of a document proving the loss of her US citizenship and vowed to present the document by Saturday.

After a number of civic groups threatened to besiege the legislature, she announced her resignation on Jan 8 — the eve of the protest.

When asked for comment, KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said on Saturday that there was no need for Diane Lee to submit evidence to the legislature to show that she had lost her US citizenship because she was no longer a legislator.

However, DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said the DPP caucus would demand that the KMT caucus, the KMT headquarters and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) present the evidence for Diane Lee because she had allegedly committed fraud.

Lai also urged prosecutors to investigate the case and recover the salary Diane Lee received as a legislator.

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