In an unusual move, the General Commissariat of National Police has posted a video on its website in which Frenchman Patrick Henri Devillers says he flew to China a free man and without any pressure from Cambodian authorities.
The video, which was posted on Thursday via YouTube, appears intended to dispel any suggestion that Mr. Devillers’ Tuesday-night flight to China was coerced.
However, interviewed while sitting on a sofa in the VIP section of Phnom Penh International Airport, Mr. Devillers looked anything but free and at times appeared fearful in the presence of an official asking him questions in French about how and why he was leaving Cambodia.
Later in the video, Mr. Devillers is seen passing through customs in the VIP section, which is not used for ordinary passengers, where immigration officials and a man that appears to be a bodyguard can be seen.
“Now, I am leaving for Shanghai tonight and will probably be heading to Beijing afterwards to go and cooperate in the case of the investigation into Gu Kailai,” Mr. Devillers says to the camera.
Mr. Devillers has business and personal links to Ms. Gu, the wife of former Chinese Communist Party figure Bo Xilai. The couple has been under investigation since April when Mr. Bo was ousted from the Chinese Politburo and Ms. Gu was accused of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood in November.
Asked to clarify that he has been under “no pressure to go to China,” Mr. Devillers tells the camera, “I am leaving freely towards this destination.”
In a monotone address, Mr. Devillers then thanks the authorities.
“For the Cambodian government, I would like to thank you for setting me free and particularly thank the immigration police who warmly welcomed me during the last weeks with care and friendship.”
The video then cuts to footage of Mr. Devillers having his documentation stamped at the airport’s VIP terminal, with the camera at one point slowly zooming in on Mr. Devillers’ nervous expression. A number of men in civilian clothing are seen as Mr. Devillers is cleared to board the flight.
It is unclear whether Mr. Devillers was accompanied on the flight.
Cambodian authorities did not allow journalists’ access to Mr. Devillers during his detention after being taken into custody at a Phnom Penh restaurant on June 13 at China’s behest.
According to the French Foreign Ministry, Mr. Devillers was given certain guarantees from China before agreeing to aid their investigation.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that, although Mr. Devillers had been released by Cambodian authorities in order to fly to China, he was taken through the airport’s VIP terminal to avoid journalists.
“He was at VIP because [we] were afraid that journalists would mess around,” Lt. Gen. Sopheak said.
Asked if he was concerned that the video may lead the public to think Mr. Devillers was coerced into making his statement, Lt. Gen. Sopheak said: “The public has not understood. It’s up to them, I don’t care what they think.”
An official at the French Embassy would not directly comment on the video, but did say that the video was likely produced at the behest of the Cambodian authorities.
“It seems that the video has been made under the supervision of the Cambodian police,” Laurence Bernardi, first secretary at the French Embassy in Phnom Penh, said in an email. “It is not up to us to comment on the quality nor the content of this video.”
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