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Lawyer hails AIT response to Lee citizenship issue

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The lawyer of former ruling Kuomintang Legislator Diane Lee said yesterday that the latest U.S. explanation of its laws concerning loss of citizenship backs Lee's claim that she legally lost her U.S. citizenship when she took public office in Taiwan more than a decade ago.

Lee Yung-jan was referring to a Jan.16 letter from the head office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) that stated loss of U.S. citizenship occurs when a citizen “voluntarily commits a statutorily defined potentially expatriating act with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship.”

The AIT is a quasi-official U.S. institution authorized to handle relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

According to Lee Yung-jan, Diane Lee's taking of an oath of allegiance to the Republic of China when she assumed office as a Taipei city councilor in 1994 and her use of her ROC passport to enter and exit the United States since then were concrete acts that proved her intent to give up her U.S. citizenship.

“We believe that the latest AIT letter marks a favorable development in the case,” Lee Yung-jan said.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) is scheduled to meet today to discuss Lee's alleged “dual citizenship” and whether her election to public office prior to 2008 should be nullified.

It remains to be seen whether the latest AIT explanation will inform the CEC commissioners' findings on Diane Lee's citizenship status before 2008.

Diane Lee, who was sworn in for a fourth legislative term Feb. 1, 2008, was found the following month to have never formally renounced her U.S. citizenship, even though she had held public office in Taiwan since 1994.

She resigned Jan. 8 just as opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians were promoting a campaign to recall her and pro-DPP civic groups were preparing to besiege the legislature to protest the lawmaking body's failure to act against her.

Taiwan's Nationality Act requires public officials holding dual citizenship to surrender their foreign citizenship before assuming public office and to obtain a certificate as proof within one year of taking office.

The law also requires that those officials who retain foreign citizenship be removed from their posts.

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