Taiwanese intelligence officer Emily Mei Yeh faces long prison term in Taiwan after being refused asylum in UK

Emily Mei Yeh claims she was asked to undertake intelligence tasks she was not comfortable with

A Taiwanese military intelligence officer who claimed asylum in the UK will next week be sent home, where she faces a long period of imprisonment.

Emily Mei Yeh, 33, who worked in Taiwan’s Military Intelligence Bureau, is being held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Bedfordshire.

She was issued a removal notice on 8 January and will be flown to Taiwan on 18 January.

She had initially been told she would be flown out on 15 February, but the date was brought forward today, giving her a week's notice.

Ms Yeh says she was uncomfortable with what she was being asked to do by her employer in Taiwan. 

“They were asking me to do stuff like gathering intelligence, especially gathering intelligence from China, Hong Kong and Macau,” she said.

She asked to resign or for an internal transfer but was denied. The authorities then punished her by restricting her liberty, she claims.

“I was like an example to all my colleagues, like this is what you get if you go against government or go against the nature of our work,” she said.

“My speech was being restricted. My travel was being restricted. It was like I’m not a human being anymore.”

She decided to flee Taiwan. In order to get her passport back from the government, she says,  she took holiday leave and booked a flight to Bangkok. But when she got to the airport she bought a ticket to the UK instead without her government’s knowledge. 

Arriving at Heathrow on June 18, 2012, she claimed asylum immediately. After three days, she was “dispersed” to Cardiff for ten days. Then she was found permanent accommodation in Newport.

Although she lived a happy life there for 18 months, volunteering at Oxfam and the Welsh Refugee Council, she was arrested and detained on 10 December, 2013.

Ms Yeh said she came to the UK because of its human rights record, but now says she feels she was “treated like a criminal” here too.

“I’m living in a modern concentration camp,” she said. “For prisoners you know when you’re getting out, but for me I don’t know when I’m getting out.”

She is almost certain she will be imprisoned in Taiwan.

On 23 December, staff were trying to remove her on an EVA Air flight from Heathrow.

“I felt pretty sick at that point because I had a kidney stone,” she said. “I was sitting on a chair and leaning against a counter and had my eyes closed."

Because she was ill she was allowed to stay.

Mike McGarvey, of McGarvey Immigration and Asylum Practitioners, who is representing Ms Yeh, said she has not leaked any sensitive information about Taiwan and claims her case was less likely to succeed because she was from a “friendly country”.

“If she was from North Korea she would probably be granted asylum,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

“The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and all applications are carefully considered before a decision is made.

“We believe that those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home. If they do not, we will enforce their removal.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'