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UK unlikely to give asylum to Taiwanese intel officer: envoy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The United Kingdom is unlikely to grant asylum to a fugitive Taiwanese military intelligence officer who was recently arrested and detained in the UK, Taiwan's top envoy to the UK said yesterday.

A former lieutenant of the MND's Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB), Emily Yeh (葉玫) was put on the Taiwanese government's wanted list after she failed to report for duty following a vacation last July.

She was recently arrested in the UK and is currently under detention while awaiting deportation. But she claims she has already sought political asylum with the British government.

Asked to comment, Taiwan's representative to the UK Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said yesterday in Taipei that his office in London has established contact with related authorities of the British government regarding Yeh's “self-proclaimed” asylum application to UK.

The British government said it has not yet received Yeh's application, Shen said.

Shen added that it is unlikely that the UK will grant political asylum to the ex-Taiwanese intelligence officer even if she does seek asylum in the country.

Taipei's office in London hopes to simplify the case in order to speed up its process so that Yeh can be deported back to Taiwan as soon as possible, the envoy said.

“We want to make the case as simple as possible: Yeh did not have a valid passport when she was caught by the U.K. Border Agency and she has overstayed in the country,” Shen said.

In the meantime, Yeh went “absent without official leave” from the MIB and will have to face legal consequences back in Taipei, he said.

According to UK media reports, Yeh had sought British political asylum on the grounds that she would likely be given the death penalty if she returned to Taiwan.

The Taiwanese military, however, refuted the accusations, saying that Yeh could only face a maximum five-year jail term upon conviction over related offenses.

Taiwan Hopes to Facilitates Yeh's Repatriation

 The chief envoy of the R.O.C. to the UK yesterday said the military will continue to communicate with UK authorities in facilitating Yeh's repatriation.

  But it could take some time before Yeh could be sent back to Taiwan because the UK is now on a week-long Christmas holiday, during which most government officials are on leave.

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