In a dramatic moment at her preliminary hearing on Sept. 13 in Taoyuan District Court, Julian Lin stated her overseas trips for Taiwan Civil Government resulted in a personal connection at the White House with Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway. Lin, now confined to solitary confinement without visitors, is charged with participation in political fraud against TCG donors. An acquaintance with Conway’s kind of clout could be viewed as exculpatory evidence against scam charges giving the case definite political overtones. Taiwan Civil Government has been seeking United States assistance to expel the exiled Republic of China. ROC prosecutors claim that TCG was conducting a hollow effort to gain donations from members.
Judge Yi Shan Yao asked Lin if she contacted officials when she lead TCG delegations abroad. Lin answered, “Yes, like Conway, she is the campaign manager of President Trump, now the highest advisor to the White House. There are also other contacts.”
The long standing strategic ambiguity that fogs Taiwan’s international status, called “political purgatory” by the District of Columbia federal appellate court, has mixed a devil’s brew. The confused status of the island, variously known as Formosa, Taiwan, the Republic of China, or Chinese Taipei has created a rainbow of Taiwanese independence organizations. One of the most controversial, and successful, is Taiwan Civil Government, founded by Julian’s husband, Roger Lin, also being held in harsh pretrial detention, on the floor in a bare cell with no visitors or contact with the outside world.
Julian Lin denied any fraudulent conduct at her preliminary hearing. Lin told the judge that most of the complainants were TCG members before her and that she could not be defrauding them because they agreed before she joined. Lin said the complainants all voluntarily applied for TCG identity cards and attended classes because of the TCG message.
Lin testified upon questioning that she had favorable experiences using the TCG identity card at the airports with Customs by courteous reception and that it was accepted as valid identification at the United Nations where she used the card to enter the building. Lin was asked for details of her use of the TCG identity card. Lin said “flying to the United States as long as the name on the ticket is the same as the name on the Taiwan Government’s identity card, you can directly use the Taiwan Government identity card without the ROC passport” to board the plane.”
“With the ROC passport, plus my useful identity card and invitation letter from the Taiwanese Government, I got a quick customs clearance. I originally lined up with the general tourists. When I showed the identity card and invitation letter of the Taiwanese Government, the Customs let us take the clearance through the official door.”
The presiding judge asked about the invitation letter. Lin answered it was for an event at the Four Seasons Hotel. Lin has been to two different events at the fancy hotel, a reception for the opening of a TCG office in Washington and later for a RightNow breakfast with Kelleyanne Conway. It is not clear from her testimony which event the invitation letter was about.
Lin said her speeches on her trips were appeals for international help about the statelessness of the Taiwanese people and a desire to normalize relations for the island.
Lin revealed that she is wealthy from her family. The 134 million yuan seized in a May 2018 raid was hers from the 350 million yuan premarital assets that belonged to her before her 2012 marriage to Roger Lin Julian claimed the money, stacked at home in cash, was hers legally. Prosecutors allege that Lin’s premarital assets were only 50 million yuan and the difference is criminal gain.
The judge asked Lin what her position at Taiwan Civil Government was to which she replied she was only a volunteer. Lin was then asked about leading teams abroad and answered she was participating in free speech as a Taiwanese. Asked if she did diplomatic work Lin repeated she was only a volunteer.
Lin explained the TCG decision-making process as being guided by weekly round table meetings. Lin said she sometimes participates when invited. She would facilitate payments when authorized by the round table group and approved by Roger Lin.
The judge asked Lin if she was a plaintiff in Roger and Julian Lin vs. USA and ROC. Lin replied she was on advice of an American attorney. The case brought in District of Columbia federal court sought to overturn the 1946 Nationality Act which deprived Formosans of their Japanese citizenship. A federal appellate court later ruled the statute of limitations had run out on the post-World War II action by the ROC to consolidate its hold on Formosa.
The judge wanted to know more about Julian Lin’s trip to the United Nations, promoted in a full-page New York Times advertisement. Lin answered, “I personally took the identity card of the Taiwanese Government and exchanged identification cards and entered the security check of the United Nations.”
The judge asked why Lin was invited to a meeting at the United Nations building. Lin explained TCG has been working hard to gain acceptance. The UN invite came through the efforts of Global Vision Communications. “In the United States, political activities must be carried out through public relations companies,”said Lin. Neil Hare, head of GVC is TCG’s chief publicist and spokesman in the United States.
Lin volunteered she had also used the TCG identity card as identification to enter the National Press Club. Lin said an “American lawyer” arranged with the National Press Club to accept the TCG card as valid identification.
The judge asked about a statement Lin made during her interrogation that TCG was approved by the Department of Justice. Lin did not recall making the statement although she said something similar at the TCG news conference held at the National Press Club. Lin was referring to TCG’s compliance with the Foreign Agent Registration Act enforced by the Department of Justice. Although FARA registration does not constitute approval it is evidence of recognition of TCG as a foreign entity.
The judge asked about GVC and its officers. Lin replied she had no current information. Given her incommunicado imprisonment the judge accepted that answer but probed into banking. Lin said she had a Bank of America account in Hong Kong unavailable to TCG and a second account which she would write checks for the group in exchange for cash. Lin would get reports from the round table decision group “that it is difficult to send money to the United States, I will help.”
Lin told the court that neither she nor Roger Lin had a salary. Lin reiterated the seized money was hers.
“It’s all my money. My family’s money won’t be all in the bank. This is my father’s teaching. I myself have a lot of money.”
Lin’s legal team took over and foretold the upcoming defense strategy. Julian’s lawyers are Li-Jung Huang, Hui-Min Huang, and Cheng-Chen Chiang. The argument is the ROC Constitution gives the people freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and association. Taiwan Civil Government’s exposition, whether the San Francisco Peace Treaty handed over Taiwan to the ROC, or US military occupation, is a political proposition and should be protected by freedom of speech.
Further, out of more than 38,000 members of TCG only sixty-six are complaining witnesses, less than two-thousandths of the total membership. The use of a fraud charge is improper and Lin should be released for want of a crime.
Lin’s lawyers complain of the propaganda employed against their client and that she has been called a Chinese mole, the “Black Rose” and the “Empress Dowager” to discredit her. They argue that Julian is a native Taiwanese and that it was not criminally wrong for her to marry Roger Lin and it is not wrong for her to have wealth.
Finally, it was pointed out to the court that there are two young children in need of care by their mother. Roger and Julian adopted two babies now a three year-old boy and a one year-old girl. The children were briefly displayed in the courtroom doorway provoking the imprisoned mother to lose her composure and cry. The small courtroom filled with sorrow as TCG supporters all burst into tears with Lin in a sad, somber moment.
Julian Lin continues to be held incommunicado in solitary confinement because she is a presumed flight risk and might send a message to supposed fraud confederates. It is hard to see how the two infant children could aid Lin in an escape or communicate to TCG members. The four month ban on seeing her children is stark proof that talk of expelling the ROC comes with a heavy price.
After the short hearing, Lin was shackled and returned to her lonely isolation in a bare cell. Julian’s punishment has already begun.