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Detained French Architect ‘Voluntarily’ Leaves for China, Officials Say

A general view of the home of French architect Patrick Henri Devillers is pictured in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 21, 2012.
Patrick Devillers, the Frenchman who has been detained for nearly a month in connection to a murder investigation in China, “voluntarily” left for China on Tuesday night, officials said.

“Cambodia has released Mr. Patrick Devillers following the request from China,” Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told VOA Khmer Wednesday. “So we have already released him. According to what I am aware of he has traveled to China voluntarily. No one forced him, and there was consent from France, especially through its embassy in Phnom Penh.”

Devillers, 52, has political and personal connection to Gu Kailai, who is being held in China for the murder of a British national and is the husband of ousted communist politician Bo Xilai. The high-profile case has fueled a major political crisis in China. He was arrested June 13, but was never charged with a crime in Cambodia.

“The Cambodian government is no longer involved with Mr. Devillers,” said Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. “The government is not involved in where Mr. Devillers is going. We have decided to release him and given back his passport.”

In Paris, Alexis Berthier, the assistant spokesperson for the French ministry of foreign affairs, told VOA that Devillers chose to go to China after consulting with lawyers and Chinese authorities, though French diplomats were not present for the meeting.

“He made his decision about going back to China after discussions with the Chinese authorities,” Berthier said. “He informed us that he received some guarantees about what would be going on once he gets to China. So after this what we can do as the French diplomatic corps is that we can guarantee that he gets full consular protection while he is there.”