Gov’t protests arrest of envoy in Kansas City

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday issued a strong protest to the United States government over the arrest of a Taiwanese representative to Kansas City, who allegedly violated a U.S. federal law in hiring a Filipino housekeeper. Foreign Minister Timothy Yang siad the arrest and detention of Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍) is a serious violation of the immunity treatment Liu enjoys as a diplomat and urged the relevant American authorities to release her immediately. Liu, the Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents at her office Friday afternoon (U.S. time), according to the Kansas City Star newspaper report. She made her first appearance before the court later Friday and was ordered to remain in custody pending a federal detention hearing scheduled for next Wednesday, the report said. The charge alleges that the 64-year-old Liu forced her housekeeper to work long hours and paid her far less than promised in her employment contract. Liu also allegedly took the woman’s visa and passport, and threatened her with deportation if she did not do as she was told, the report said. When asked to comment on Liu’s arrest during a news briefing yesterday, Yang said that upon learning of the news, the MOFA immediately asked Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), head of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, to call the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in expressing grave protest. Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-hsun (沈呂巡) yesterday also summoned AIT Deputy Director Eric Madison in Taipei to protest again and demand that Liu be unconditionally released immediately, Yang added. Protests had also been simultaneously lodged to the legal authorities in the Kansas City and to the U.S. Department of State, he added.

Violation of an Immunity Treatment Agreement The minister noted that Taiwan signed an immunity treatment agreement with the United States in 1980. Therefore, the arrest of Liu is a clear violation of the accord. Yang added that if the American authorities wish to investigate Liu’s alleged involvement in the case, they could take advantage of diplomatic channel instead of arresting and detaining the envoy.

During yesterday’s press conference, the minister also said that the Philippine housekeeper in question was hired on the behalf of the representative office not on Liu’s behalf.

The MOFA is also conducting its own internal investigation to determine if Liu has indeed violated related U.S. federal law, he said. The Housekeeper’s Accusations

According to local newspaper report, the Filipina woman, identified in court documents by the initials F.V., was living in the Philippines last November when recruited for the housekeeping job.

F.V. arrived in Kansas City in March to work for Liu but later found herself underpaid and overworked. She complained to a compatriot who later helped her escape Liu’s house in August.

The Philippine man also reported the case to the FBI and ultimately led to Liu’s arrest, the report said. Liu is accused of violating the law that covers the recruitment of foreign workers and their transport into the United States on fraudulent terms. The charge of fraud in foreign labor contracting carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in federal prison, it said. Federal prosecutors in Kansas City say that the defendant is believed to be the first foreign representative to face this charge in the United States. When asked to comment, AIT Spokesman Chris Kavanagh yesterday said the case was being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DOJ should therefore comment.