Cambodia to probe activist 'abduction'

Cambodia to probe activist 'abduction'

Cambodian police yesterday said they will investigate the case of a Thai activist who disappeared from the streets of Phnom Penh, denying any involvement in what rights group claimed was an "abduction".

"I would like to confirm that Cambodian authorities and police did not arrest that individual," Cambodian National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun told AFP, as fears mounted about the activist's safety.

"We are launching an investigation into it... it's not clear yet at what level this information [about his disappearance] is true."

Pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, 37, was dragged into a car in broad daylight on June 4 in the Cambodian capital, according to a Human Rights Watch report, which cited witnesses and security camera footage.

Last week a Cambodian interior ministry spokesman dismissed the report as "fake news".

Thai police previously denied any knowledge of Mr Wanchalearm's whereabouts, while a foreign affairs ministry spokesman said it has asked the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to get more information on the case.

Mr Wanchalearm's family has issued a public statement begging for his "release", and other pro-democracy activists in Thailand have staged small protests to demand a probe.

A native of Ubon Ratchathani, Mr Wanchalearm was wanted by authorities for defying a National Council for Peace and Order summons to report after the 2014 coup.

In June 2018, police issued a warrant for his arrest, saying Mr Wanchalearm violated the Computer Crime Act by operating a Facebook page critical of the government.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said yesterday the Foreign Affairs Ministry is working closely with Cambodian authorities to find the missing activist.

Sutin Klungsang, chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, said that the opposition will ask the government to clarify the disappearance of Mr Wanchalearm at a parliament session today.

Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward Party MP who is also spokesman of the House committee on legal affairs, justice and human rights, said he will ask the committee today to consider questioning relevant state agencies about the disappearance.


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