Two Seek Asylum After Allegedly Defaming PM

Two men reportedly facing ex­tradition from Thailand for al­legedly defaming Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen have applied for asylum and are under the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Ref­ugees, their colleagues claim­ed Sunday.

Student Movement for Demo­cracy Deputy Secretary-General Ear Channa and Cambodian In­dependent Civil Servants As­sociation President Man Nath are under UN protection, said Sorn Dara, the Student Move­ment acting president, and Pho Boromey, spokesman for the civil servants association.

“[Man Nath] is under UNHCR protection,” Pho Boromey said. Sorn Dara claimed that Ear Chan­na is also under UN protection.

Contacted on Sunday, Deborah Backus, UNHCR spokeswoman in Cambodia, said the refugee agency could not comment, and Thai Ambassador Piyawat Niyom­rerks was too busy to comment.

“I am confident that the two men will not be sent back. They might be sent to a third country,” Sorn Dara said.

National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy told reporters on Fri­day that Thai authorities had agreed to extradite the two men, who fled to Thailand last month af­ter a de­famation lawsuit was filed against them on behalf of Hun Sen.

Hok Lundy also reported that Free Trade Union President Chea Mony would be extradited from Thailand though the union’s Sec­retary-General Mann Seng Hak said on Sunday that Chea Mony was still in Ireland, where he has been staying for the past month.

“We are concerned that Ireland would send him back [to Cam­bodia],” he added.

Hok Lundy could not be contacted for comment and Deputy Director General of National Po­lice Mao Chandara refused to com­­ment Sunday.

Opposition parliamentarian Son Chhay said he doubted that Thai­land would comply with Hok Lun­dy’s request to extradite the two activists. “The Thai have many rights to refuse the request,” he said.

“The [Thai-Cambodia extradition] treaty states very clearly that political refugees would not be part of the treaty. This is very clear that Hok Lundy just made up the story,” Son Chhay added.


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