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Now Free, Accused Thai ‘Spy’ Flies Home

The Thai man accused of spying against Cambodia was released Monday, meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen before flying home.

Siwarak was granted a royal pardon Dec. 11, after he was sentenced to seven years for leaking flight information to Thai officials in the midst of a diplomatic fracas.

After his release from Prey Sar prison Monday morning, he was driven to Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence in a Mercedes, accompanied by Ministry of Interior officials.

Hun Sen gave an elated Siwarak his pardon documentation and spoke with him behind closed doors along with Interior officials, lawyers, Siwarak’s mother and Sonchai Montriwat, a senior official from the Thaksin-aligned Peua Thai Party.

Siwarak was originally arrested for passing information to the Thai Embassy about a flight of Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted Thai premier, during a controversial visit in November.

“I feel very happy that I have freedom again,” Siwarak told reporters at Hun Sen’s residence. “I very, very appreciate for the kindness of Your Highness, His Majesty, the king of the Kingdom of Cambodia, that gives me a chance to go back home.”

Hun Sen also met briefly with Thaksin, who arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday ahead of Siwarak’s release and met with Siwarak at Prey Sar prison on Sunday.

This is Thaksin’s second trip as a controversial economic adviser to Hun Sen and comes in the midst of a diplomatic crisis between Cambodia and Thailand. Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile and is wanted by Thai authorities for corruption.

Hun Sen told Shinawatra on Monday that Siwarak had been a victim of politics. Government lawyer Pal Chandara said Siwarak had been released under the law, not because of politics. And Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said he was “surprised” at Siwarak’s release and all the official pomp surrounding it.

Siwarak, who flew to Bangkok Monday afternoon, will return to work in Cambodia at his old job, as an engineer for the Cambodian Air Traffic Service, a Thai-owned company, according to his lawyer, Khieu Sambor.