The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday it would not negotiate with Emily Yeh (葉玫), a lieutenant with the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) arrested in the UK, over the conditions for returning to Taiwan.
Yeh was detained at an immigration center in Bedfordshire, England, where she is awaiting deportation for illegally staying in the country.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) told a press conference yesterday that Yeh has been listed as a fugitive on Taiwan’s wanted list and the maximum sentence for her desertion is five years. Lo’s statement is consistent with Article 39 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) and directly refutes the 33-year-old Yeh’s claims that she would face the death penalty if repatriated.
People who commit crimes have to face a legal prosecution in that country, Lo added, urging her to return home to face trial.
“We hope the UK will agree to deport her back to Taiwan as soon as possible to face investigation,” Lo said, adding that the military will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in communicating with UK authorities and facilitating Yeh’s repatriation.
According to MIB, Yeh applied to go abroad on vacation from June 17 to 24 last year, but never returned, adding that she is believed to have attempted to escape service because, as she said, she was “not fit” for military life.
Deputy Director-General of the MND Department of Resource Planning, Major General Pai Chieh-lung (白捷隆), said that according to regulations, Yeh is obligated to complete five years of military service.
Responding to media inquiries that Yeh deserted her work to gain publicity, MIB Chief Executive Official Major General Chen Rong-ming (陳榮明) confirmed that in June 2011 Yeh went to the Taoyuan International Airport under work pretenses to see a Korean male star. She was later disciplined, Chen added.
Separately yesterday, Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), director-general of European affairs at the MOFA, said by telephone that the Taipei Representative Office in the UK sent its officials to visit Yeh.
Yeh has been treated humanely in the detention center, Zhang said.
Representative to the UK Shen Lyu-hsun (沈呂巡) on Thursday confirmed that Yeh has asked for asylum in the UK.
An anonymous source from MOFA was quoted in a Central News Agency (CNA) story condemning Yeh for filing the asylum application, saying it was unwise for Yeh to ask for political asylum in the UK and her behavior has damaged the image of the Republic of China.
In a telephone interview with CNA on Thursday, Yeh was quoted as saying that she does not regret her decision to return to Taiwan from the US a few years ago to pursue a military intelligence career, nor does she regret going to the UK to avoid finishing her service.
The 33-year-old said she comes from a military family. Her father, who died when she was still young, and maternal grandfather served in the Republic of China Army and Air Force respectively.
Encouraged by family members, she took part in a Military Intelligence Bureau recruitment exam in 2010 after completing her studies in nutrition and food science at a California university.
The work environment at the bureau, however, left her feeling disappointed and frustrated, she said.
She recalled being derided and scorned by colleagues for being older and failing to complete assignments well.