The Taipei District Court on Friday issued a warrant for the arrest of a former political talk show host accused of libel against President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after he twice failed to appear in court.
The court said it issued an arrest order for Dennis Peng (彭文正), who accused Tsai of forging her academic credentials, after learning that he is in the US.
Peng failed to appear at court hearings on July 28 and Oct. 20, after being subpoenaed, the court said.
In response to the warrant, Peng said in a video posted on YouTube that he had appeared for an earlier hearing and authorized his lawyers to attend on his behalf for subsequent hearings due to scheduling conflicts that prevented him from appearing in person.
“I had applied to attend hearings through videoconferencing, but the request was rejected,” he said.
Peng said that while in the US, he had received text messages that made him concerned for his safety should he return to Taiwan, adding that the nation’s COVID-19 prevention measures that would require him to quarantine for 14 days would prevent him from “doing all the things that need to be done” to investigate the legitimacy of Tsai’s academic credentials.
The former National Taiwan University (NTU) professor has repeatedly said that Tsai never completed her dissertation to receive a doctoral degree in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1984.
In a March 31 indictment, the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said investigators determined that Tsai did complete her dissertation, passed an oral exam and obtained her doctoral degree.
Prosecutors charged Peng with aggravated libel for spreading inaccurate information for his own personal gain, including to increase viewership of his online talk show True Voice of Taiwan.
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 her academic credentials were fake.
The district prosecutors’ office decided not to indict Ho and Lin, saying that the two had double-checked their claims as best as they could before making their accusations.
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