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King Sihamoni Pardons Alleged Thai ‘Spy’

King Norodom Sihamoni issued a royal pardon on Friday for a Thai citizen sentenced to seven years in prison for alleged espionage, a government spokesman said Monday.

The pardon of Siwarak Chothipong, a 31-year-old Thai engineer, came after an official request from the Pheu Thai Party, which is affiliated with former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said.

Siwarak was arrested in November after allegedly revealing flight information related to Thaksin, who was entering Cambodia as an economic adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen in the midst of a diplomatic crisis.

Cambodia and Thailand remain in a diplomatic deadlock over the appointment of Thaksin, who is wanted in his home country on charges of corruption. Hun Sen refused to extradite the former premier, who was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006. Both sides have withdrawn their diplomats and canceled other agreements over Thaksin.

Siwarak is expected to be released from Prey Sar prison on Monday, Khieu Kanharith said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday Cambodia would welcome his return to work in the country, Khieu Kanharith said.

Panitan Watanayagorn, a Thai government spokesman in Bangkok, told VOA Khmer Friday that Siwarak had been pardoned. He appealed to Thai citizens to respect the rule of law in Cambodia.

Chan Saveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the pardon came as a surprise, but he urged the government to help thousands of Cambodians in Thai prisons receive their own royal pardon.

Prey Sar, meanwhile, holds many rights activists, as well as journalists, who should also be pardoned, Chan Saveth said.