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Alleged Thai Spy Denied Release on Bail

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday ruled it would continue the detention of a Thai citizen accused of espionage, denying a written request he be released on bail.

Siwarak Chothipong, 31, was arrested on Nov. 12, after allegedly leaking a flight schedule of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his newly appointed economic adviser, ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to Thai officials in Phnom Penh.

Siwarak was charged with spying, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 15 years. He did not appear at his hearing Friday.

Thai officials have called the charges “malicious” and claim Sirawak was framed.

Siwarak, an employee of the Thai-owner Cambodia Air Traffic Services, which handles Cambodia’s flight traffic, has become a focal point in a diplomatic row between the two neighbors.

The disagreement over Thaksin’s appointment as Hun Sen’s economic adviser has led to the ejection of diplomats from the capitals of each country and the annulment of development loans.

Thaksin is wanted in Thailand on corruption charges, following his ouster in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Hun Sen said he would not honor Thai requests to extradite Thaksin, whose case he said was political, angering Bangkok and increasing the diplomatic tension between the two countries, which have troops amassed on each side of a contested border in Preah Vihear province.