A spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that Cambodian authorities are considering deporting a Spanish environmentalist who has led a ongoing campaign against a Chinese hydrodam in the west of the country.
Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, head of the Mother Nature activist group, will see his visa expire on Feb. 20. He says the authorities already have seized his passport, after he sent it in for a standard visa renewal.
Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told VOA Khmer in an interview that authorities could apply immigration law to the case, thereby deporting the man. But he said they would rather see him leave and then reapply for his visa.
“We don’t want to see [an expulsion],” he said. “We asked him to leave Cambodia and request again the validity of his visa.”
However, Gonzalez-Davidson told VOA Khmer that the authorities can renew his visa with him still in the country and there is no need for him to leave to do so. “It’s just a hoax,” he said, adding that he will not leave Cambodia willingly.
Gonzalez-Davidson, who speaks Khmer and has been living in Cambodia for the last 12 years, has been a leading activist against the dam, which is to be built by the Chinese-backed Sinohydro company in the Areng Valley of Koh Kong province.
Rights workers on Tuesday condemned the move, saying it is aimed at silencing a critic of the dam, which will displace thousands of families in a rare ecosystem in the coastal mountains.