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Friday, November 13, 2009

Cambodia's arrest of Thai is intimidation : Thai FM

By The Nation

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Friday that Cambodia's arrest of a Thai engineer on spying charges is nothing more than intimidation with the intention to defame Thailand.

Cambodia has charged Siwarak Chothipong, an engineer of Cambodia Air Traffic Services, for "stealing" the flight information of ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodia's PM Hun Sen.

Cambodian prosecutors alleged that Siwarak stole the information and sent it to Thai embassy's first secretary Kamrob Palawatwichai.

Cambodia on Thursday expelled Kamrob following the accusation that he had executed work in contradiction to his position. He was ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.

He accused Thaksin of being the major cause of all the problems Thailand having with Cambodia.
He said he had assigned officials of Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to assist and provide legal advice to Siwarak.

Cambodia's appointment of Thaksin as the adviser to Hun Sen and his government has seen the start of the current diplomatic rows between the neighbouring countries. Both have recalled their ambassadors and the first secretaries. Thailand has downgraded relations and reviewed cooperation with and loans given to Cambodia.
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Cambodia accuses Thai national of spying

By SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press Writer

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia has detained a Thai man for allegedly spying on fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the latest sign of worsening relations between the two neighbors.

Thaksin, a fugitive from justice in Thailand, was named an adviser to Cambodia's government on economic affairs last week, angering the Thai government and prompting it to recall its ambassador, with Cambodia following suit. Thaksin then arrived this week for a visit to Cambodia, further straining ties. He was expected to depart late Friday.

Siwarak Chothipong, a 31-year-old employee of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, which manages flights in the country, was accused of stealing Thaksin's flight schedule and sending it diplomats at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, said National Police Deputy Chief Lt. Gen. Sok Phal.

Sok Phal said Siwark allegedly handed over the flight schedule to the first secretary at the Thai embassy, who was then ordered by Cambodia on Thursday to leave the country for carrying out activities inconsistent with his official duties. Thailand responded by ordering out the first secretary of Cambodia's mission in Bangkok.

Siwarak appeared in municipal court Thursday and was charged with stealing information that could impact national security. If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in jail.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva did not comment on the spying allegation but said the expulsion of the Thai diplomat was aimed at provoking a "violent response" from his government.

"The Thai government didn't fall for their trick," he told reporters in Bangkok.

Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire, was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power. He fled Thailand last year to escape a conflict of interest conviction and a two-year prison sentence.

Critics, including Thailand's government, have portrayed him as a traitor for accepting the Cambodian appointment and have lambasted Cambodia for hosting him while he is a fugitive. The appointment further strained relations already roiled by several deadly skirmishes over disputed territory in the past year and a half.

Cambodia rejected a Thai request Wednesday for Thaksin's arrest, saying the legal case against the former leader was politically motivated.

Thaksin's political battle with the Thai government, which he accuses of being undemocratic, has bitterly divided his country. He retains huge popularity among his rural poor power base who have staged frequent rallies calling for his return to power. But he is reviled by many in the educated urban elite, who led months of street protests against him.

Thaksin claims he was ousted because he threatened the privileges of Thailand's urban-centered ruling class by winning the support of the poor. He came under further attack in Thailand this week for remarks in an interview that critics claimed were insulting to Thailand's revered monarchy.

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Cambodian PM welcomes troops pull out from Preah Vihear Temple

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday welcomed special troops pull out from the area near Preah Vihear Temple, a gesture showing there is no military confrontations along Cambodia-Thai border despite diplomatic and political relations get sour.

Hun Sen who arrived in Siem Reap province on Friday morning welcoming nearly 1,000 special paratroopers who were deployed in the area near Preah Vihear Temple after the area became a disputed center last year.

Chea Dara, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) told reporters that the pull out of special paratroopers was to show the military situation at the border of the two nations is normal and even eased.

He said the present conflict between the two countries has nothing related to military, but only the two leaders and that he said more troops pull out from the area will likely be taken place if such good situation at the border is realized.

Chea Dara, however, declined to give actual figure of the troops pull out Friday and nor the remaining troops deployed in the area near the temple.

After the border clash last year, both Cambodia and Thailand have reinforced more troops to the area, but were later downsized the number due to less tension.

Relations between the two neighboring countries were further strained recently after Cambodia named ousted former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra its economic adviser on Nov. 4. Thailand recalled its ambassador on Nov. 5, and Cambodia followed suit.

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