The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday charged media personality Dennis Peng (彭文正) with aggravated libel for accusing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of having forged her academic credentials.
Prosecutors said that documents and other evidence prove that Tsai completed her doctoral dissertation, passed an oral examination and obtained her doctoral degree in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 1984.
They charged Peng, formerly a journalism professor at National Taiwan University (NTU), for alleging in 2019 that Tsai’s academic credentials were fake.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Peng spread the rumors without researching the facts to increase the viewership of his online talk show “True Voice of Taiwan,” they said.
The indictment came after Tsai in September 2019 filed a lawsuit against Ho De-fen (賀德芬), a law professor emeritus at NTU; Hwan C. Lin (林環牆), an associate professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and Peng after they said that her academic credentials were fake.
Ho and Lin had not been indicted because the two had double-checked their claims as best as they could before making the accusations, prosecutors said.
The office also did not find sufficient evidence indicating that the two academics had malicious intent, and wanted to denigrate Tsai and damage her reputation, it said.
Ho yesterday called a news conference in Taipei, urging prosecutors not to treat defendants differently.
“I am 100 percent — totally, absolutely, unreservedly — certain that Tsai did not write a doctoral dissertation, nor had an oral defense, or obtained a doctoral degree. Prosecutors, there is no need to go light on me,” she said.
Tsai’s academic credentials have been the subject of discussion in local media since Peng raised the issue in a Facebook post in June 2019, when Tsai was seeking re-election.
Following months of speculation about Tsai’s academic credentials, the LSE issued a formal statement in October confirming that Tsai “was correctly awarded a Ph.D. in Law in 1984.”
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