AWOL officer case an overstay in UK, not asylum: envoy

NO SHOW::Officials from Taiwan’s representative office in the UK have visited the facility in England where Emily Yeh is being held, but she refused to meet them

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Dec 24, 2013 - Page 3

The case of a Taiwanese military intelligence officer who fled to the UK to avoid military service is simply an issue of a visa overstay and has nothing to do with seeking asylum, Taiwan’s representative to the UK said yesterday.

“We hope to simplify the case,” Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said when answering questions from lawmakers about Lieutenant Emily Yeh (葉玫) during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei.

Although the 33-year-old officer from the Military Intelligence Bureau claimed that she had applied for political asylum in the UK last year upon her arrival, the UK government is not treating the case as asylum, Shen said.

Yeh is currently being held at a detention center in the UK where she is awaiting deportation for staying in the country illegally, Shen said.

The issue of her case is simple — she overstayed in the UK and her passport had been invalidated by the Taiwanese government, he said.

“We have been making this point clearly to the UK government,” Shen said, adding that Taiwan’s representative office in the UK has been in close touch with the British government over the issue.

“We hope that she will be deported to Taiwan soon,” he said.

However, he said that it may take more time before the issue can be resolved, due to the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays in the UK.

Yeh applied to go abroad on vacation from June 17 to June 24 last year, but failed to return, the Military Intelligence Bureau said.

She is believed to have deserted from the military, because in her words she was “not fit” for military life, the bureau said.

Shen said officials from Taiwan’s representative office in the UK have visited the facility in Bedford, England, where Yeh is being held, but she refused to meet them.

Yeh is believed to have entered the UK under that country’s visa-exempt program and to have stayed illegally after the period of six months permitted under the program expired.

Meanwhile, Shen told the committee that the government is hoping to sign a bilateral investment agreement with the UK as part of its efforts to strengthen trade relations between the two nations.

“Our goal is to first sign the agreement with the UK” in an effort to pave the way for signing an economic cooperation agreement with the EU, Shen said, adding that it could take several years to negotiate such a deal.