Britain deports Taiwanese intelligence agent, says Taipei government
A young Taiwanese military intelligence officer who had been on the country’s ‘wanted’ list after failing to return from an overseas trip has been deported by the British authorities, the government said.
Yeh Mei, a lieutenant with Taiwan’s Military Intelligence Agency was deported on Saturday for overstaying her visa and escorted to Taiwan by British personnel, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Upon arrival, Yeh was taken to Taichung by officials from the prosecutors’ office there,” it said in a statement, referring to the city in central Taiwan where she had served her duty before taking an overseas sightseeing trip and going AWOL in June 2012.
The ministry did not provide further details, but an investigation bureau officer familiar with the legal process said that she expected Yeh to be placed in custody for questioning.
Local TVBS news network showed Yeh, reported to be 33, being escorted by security officials upon her arrival at the airport. She covered her head with a jacket as she was handcuffed and taken away.
Yeh had been put on a wanted list by a local court after she failed to return for duty after an overseas trip.
She told the Taipei-based Apple Daily that her colleagues had been hostile to her and her repeated attempts to drop out had been rejected by her boss.
She had claimed that she could be sentenced to death and sought political asylum with the British authorities, but the bid was rejected, foreign ministry officials said.
When Yeh first disappeared, there was speculation in Taiwan’s media that she may have joined China’s spy network.
But the country’s Military Intelligence Agency has attributed Yeh’s disappearance to ‘personal factors’.
China still claims Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.
Ties have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan’s China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008.
But the former arch-rivals still spy on each other. In 2012 Taiwan’s top court rejected an appeal by former army general Lo Hsien-che, who was jailed for life in the toughest punishment meted out in an espionage case in decades.
He was suspected of handing over to China information relating to a project that gave the Taiwanese military some access to US intelligence systems.