Detained French architect Patrick Henri Devillers boarded a flight to China late last night after being held in custody in Cambodia for more than a month for his links to the biggest political scandal to hit China in decades, a government spokesman said.
At Phnom Penh International Airport, an official at the check-in desk showed a reporter a computerized record that Mr. Devillers, 52, had been checked in on the 11:40 p.m. flight to Shanghai.
“Patrick will be going to China tonight, by his own will. French embassy people will escort him to the plane,” Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said in a written message yesterday evening.
Reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport did not see Mr. Devillers and could not confirm whether he had left for China of his own volition.
The French Embassy declined to comment on Mr. Devillers’ departure.
Cambodian authorities arrested Mr. Devillers in Phnom Penh on June 13 after a request from China. Mr. Devillers has been linked to fallen Chinese Communist Party figure Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, who is reportedly in detention in China where she has been accused of the November murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Mr. Kanharith has previously said that he believes Mr. Devillers was involved in helping Ms. Gu to spirit money out of China.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said last week that Mr. Devillers was willing to go to China to assist the authorities there with their investigation. However, Mr. Devillers own wishes in the matter had not been made public since his arrest and detention by police.
“We have no comment to make regarding information given by Cambodian government,” Laurence Bernardi, first secretary at the French Embassy, said in a text message responding to questions about Mr. Devillers reported voluntary departure from Phnom Penh last night.
Mr. Devillers had lived in Cambodia for more than five years and had children with a Cambodian partner.