The government on Tuesday denied recording telephone conversations in November between a Thai engineer at Cambodia Air Traffic Services and a Thai embassy official discussing the visit of Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The dismissal of the phone tap allegations, issued in a statement from the Council of Ministers, comes in response to a Dec 16 interview given by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to Thai media where he said if Cambodia did record the telephone calls it should “clarify this case.”
The Council of Ministers said the government only obtained the billing records of the telephone calls in question, “which were provided by a private telephone company, concerning the data of the conversation between Siwarak Chutipong, CATS engineer, and Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary of the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh.”
“Cambodia has no [habit] of acting against the law and the telephone tapping has never been the practice of Cambodia and it has never done anything which would affect any of it principles,” the statement read.
Mr Siwarak was arrested Nov 12 and sentenced to seven years in prison for spying but was freed days later after receiving a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni. Cambodia expelled Mr Kamrob the same day Mr Siwarak was arrested, saying he failed to perform his diplomatic duties.
Speaking to the Thai daily newspaper Thai Rath, Mr Siwarak said, “I knew our conversations had been recorded.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong declined to comment yesterday and referred questions to the Council of Ministers.
Ministry spokesman Phay Siphan said he was not aware of which private company handled the phone calls and that he did not know if the government asked for the information or if the telephone company provided it unprompted.
According to Article 40 of the Cambodian Constitution, “The right to privacy of residence to the secrecy of correspondence by mail, telegram, fax, telex and telephone shall be guaranteed.”
The government statement continued that Mr Abhisit’s remarks were “simply a dream” told for political gain and to dodge responsibility for the affair.
In an interview with The Bangkok Post last week, Mr Kamrob said he called Mr Siwarak once and received a call back confirming a special jet had landed at the capital’s Pochentong Airport. He said his actions were standard procedure.
“Reporting like this is not only done in the case of the former prime minister [Thaksin] but all Thai or foreign officials who come to Cambodia or have any movements here are linked to my beat,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.