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France Demands Clarification in Arrest of Citizen

The government of France has asked Cambodian officials to clarify the reasons behind the arrest of Patrick Devillers, who has become entangled in a Chinese political scandal.

Devillers was arrested June 13 in Phnom Penh at the request of China, Cambodian officials said, but no specific charges have been brought against him.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement that French officials had visited Devillers in custody.

French officials have told the government that no prosecution should be brought against Devillers “without clear legal basis,” he said.

Devillers, who lives in Phnom Penh, is an associate of the wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who is at the center of a Chinese political crisis.

Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng told VOA Khmer that Devillers had been arrested at the behest of Chinese authorities.

“But whether he will be extradited rests solely on Cambodia’s decision,” he said. “For now we have decided to keep him in Cambodia.”

Devillers’ arrest comes after the three-day visit last week of He Guogiang, a Chinese Communist Party official overseeing the case of Bo Xilai.

Cambodia has made extraditions on behalf of Beijing in the past. In 2009, authorities deported 20 Uyghur minorities who had sought refuge in Cambodia after violence in the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang.