Thai border police have arrested two suspected Cambodian Freedom Fighters at the Poipet border crossing and handed them over to Cambodian officials, bringing the total number of CFF suspects arrested to 48 since Sept 6, officials said Thursday.
Thai border police detained David Chan, also known as Sak Taetra, and Ouen Chan Dara at the border station after the men failed to produce the proper documents to enter Cambodia, said Sok Phal, information officer at the Ministry of Interior.
Thai officers handed the suspects over to Cambodian authorities, who had a warrant for their arrests, Sok Phal said. Both men were transferred to Phnom Penh on Wednesday and are currently in custody at the Ministry of Interior.
“These men are CFF, and we found letters and documents on them that said they were going to attack six districts in Battambang on September 16,” Sok Phal said. He did not provide details of the alleged attack.
According to Sok Phal, Ouen Chan Dara told Interior Ministry officials that he stole $40,000 from bank accounts in Thailand belonging to Chhun Yasith, the self-confessed leader of the CFF who lives in Long Beach, in the US state of California.
Ouen Chan Dara said he stole the money between August and September, and that Chhun Yasith had sent the money from Long Beach bank accounts to accounts in Thailand, Sok Phal said.
Chhun Yasith said he did not know David Chan and Ouen Chan Dara. Speaking Thursday by telephone from Long Beach, he said he neither met nor communicated with either suspect.
He said the CFF has one main agent in Thailand named Peter Leng, but that Leng was not involved with the suspects arrested this week. “The [Cambodian] government is lying—they are trying to compare me to Osama bin Laden,” Chhun Yasith said. “I am not involved in any terrorist activity.”
Although Chhun Yasith admitted to having bank accounts in Thailand, he said “my bank accounts in Thailand do not have [$40,000] in them. The men arrested must be lying. I don’t have that much money. I only have a small amount to pay for food and housing for men in Thailand—around a couple of thousand dollars.”
Chhun Yasith said agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation came to his office on Sept 11—the day of the attacks in New York and Washington—and interviewed him for about two hours. He said the FBI agents took documents from his office and copied them, then returned them one week later.
“The FBI didn’t find anything—that’s why they returned my documents,” he said.
Meanwhile, three alleged CFF members arrested in Oddar Meanchey province were transferred to Siem Reap Provincial Court in Siem Reap province for processing, and two more CFF suspects were arrested in Siem Reap town, said provincial prosecutor Ang Neardei.
One of the suspects, Sok Savong, 32, is a former soldier, said Siem Reap town deputy police chief Lach Savoun.
While officials from the Ministry of Interior said 48 CFF suspects have been arrested, a report released by the NGO Licadho states that at least 49 individuals have been arrested since the government began cracking down on suspected CFF members on Sept 6.
Licadho’s numbers do not include David Chan, Ouen Chan Dara or the two men that were arrested in Siem Reap. Those arrests brought the unofficial total to 53.