NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A lawyer representing some of the Taiwanese nationals extradited from Kenya to China said Wednesday the Kenyan government acted illegally and he will be suing the state over the violations.
The incident is focusing new attention on Beijing's efforts to assert its sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, and the leverage it wields over smaller nations to achieve that.
Lawyer Steve Isinta said he represented 37 of the 111 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals arrested in Kenya over wire fraud allegations. Isinta said his clients were acquitted of all charges last week and the court ordered that their passports be returned and gave them 21 days to leave the country or re-apply to stay.
The government ignored the court orders, singled out 23 of his Taiwanese clients and deported them to China, he said. His clients were also held for four days without charge, he said.
"As much as we want answers from the government on why they did this we also want the court to make declarations in terms of assigning responsibility and punishment if necessary, that would be up to the court, it's not for me to say," said Isinta.
He declined to comment on whether he thinks China pressed Kenya to deport the Taiwanese nationals to China.
Analysts say China's specific goal is to extract concessions from Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to endorse Beijing's position that Taiwan and the mainland are part of a single Chinese nation. The sides split amid civil war in 1949, and China has threatened to use force to gain control over the self-governing island.