Gov’t Waits to Deport Activist With Expired Visa

An immigration official said Sunday that his department would wait for orders before moving to deport environmental activist Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, whose visa the government refused to renew after it expired Friday.

The government says it refused to renew the Spanish national’s visa because he and his NGO, Mother Nature, set up an illegal roadblock in September that temporarily obstructed a government convoy on its way into the Areng Valley in Koh Kong province, the site of a proposed hydropower dam the group opposes. Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson and his supporters suspect the government wants him out of the country because he has helped to stall the project.

On Friday, the day his visa expired, the Interior Ministry’s general department of immigration sent Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson a letter informing him that his request to stay was denied.

Contacted Sunday, the head of the department’s investigations office, Uk Heisela, said the government had not yet taken action to deport Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson, who has vowed not to leave Cambodia voluntarily.

“We will call and instruct him to leave,” he said. “We are waiting for orders from the head of immigration, then we will implement it.”

Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson, who remains in Cambodia, said that authorities had yet to make any attempt to deport him.

He said he was assured by legal experts that he could legally stay in the country another 37 days and would use the time to decide on his next move.

Asked if the government planned to deport Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak replied only, “Wait and see.”

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