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Authorities unaware of alleged abduction of Thai activist in Phnom Penh

Ben Sokhean & Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Wanchalearm Satsaksit was allegedly abducted in the capital. Facebook

Cambodian Authorities said yesterday they were unaware about an alleged abduction of a Thai activist in Phnom Penh last week as claimed by Human Rights Watch.

Wanchalearm Satsaksit, 37, who is wanted by Thai authorities for allegedly violating the country’s Computer Crime Act in 2018, was reportedly abducted by a group of armed men in front of his apartment in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Phay Siphan, head of Royal Government Spokesperson Unit, said yesterday he was only aware of the alleged abduction through the media.

“Please ask the Ministry of Interior about this,” he said.

Mr Siphan noted Cambodia and Thailand have an extradition agreement but he did not know about Mr Wanchalearm’s situtation.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak and National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun said yesterday they were also not aware about Mr Wanchalearm’s alleged abduction.

When asked if the National Police is going to investigate the alleged abduction, Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said: “We don’t know about it, so what should we investigate for?”

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at rights group Licadho, said yesterday his group is monitoring the case to check if an abduction actually took place.

“The case was reported to have happened here, so Cambodian authorities should investigate to find the truth,” he said. “If it is true, action should be taken.”

Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday that Mr Wanchalearm is a prominent pro-democracy activist affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, known as the “Red Shirts”.

Mr Wanchalearm fled to Cambodia after the military coup in 2014 and continues to be politically active while in exile, frequently making comments critical of the Thai government on social media.

“The Cambodian government is obligated to find out what happened to Mr Wanchalearm, who was taken away at gunpoint in Phnom Penh, and ensure he is safe,” HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams said in the statement.

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