The British Home Office refused to say on Monday when it will repatriate a Taiwanese intelligence officer illegally staying there, stressing only that the British government has handled the application for asylum carefully.
Declining to comment on the timing of the officer’s repatriation, a Home Office spokesperson said the British government carefully considers all applications for asylum. It then repatriates those who cannot substantiate their fears of being persecuted after returning to their home countries, the spokesperson said.
The Home Office was responding to the Central News Agency’s request for confirmation of a report in the Independent on Saturday which said that the officer, named Lieutenant Emily Yeh (葉玫), would be repatriated on Saturday after an 18-month stay in Britain.
She had initially been told she would be flown out on Feb. 15, but the date was moved forward, the report said.
Yeh told the paper she left Taiwan because she was uncomfortable with what she was being asked to do by the Military Intelligence Bureau, and said her liberties were restricted after her request to resign or be transferred was denied.
“They were asking me to do stuff like gathering intelligence, especially gathering intelligence from China, Hong Kong and Macau,” she was quoted as saying.
She flew to the UK in June 2012, where she sought asylum. She took up residency in Newport, Wales, until her Dec. 10 arrest for overstaying.
Yeh is currently being held at an immigration removal center in Bedfordshire, where she is awaiting deportation.
Yeh’s lawyer Mike McGarvey said that because Taiwan is a “friendly country,” not a totalitarian state like North Korea, his client’s application was unlikely to succeed.
Once Yeh returns to Taiwan, she could be tried for desertion, which would carry a maximum sentence of five years, not a death sentence as she claimed to UK authorities in her asylum bid.