PM to seek release of two Thai activists jailed in Cambodia

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BANGKOK, Sept 10 – During her one day official visit to Phnom Penh on Thursday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra plans to seek the release of two Thai activists jailed in a Cambodian prison, according to Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Mr Surapong said that the prime minister’s trip on next week is an introductory visit and is customary for the new leader of country.

He said Ms Yingluck is scheduled to meet her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen and may use the opportunity to help secure the release of two activists from the Thailand Patriot Network, Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, now being detained in a Cambodian jail for illegal entry and spying charges.

The minister said it would be ‘great’ if Cambodia would release them and let them return to Thailand, but the decision depends on the Cambodian authorities.

A Cambodian court on Feb 1 ruled that Veera and his secretary Ratree were guilty of espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a1.8 million riel (US$450) fine while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel ($300) fine.

Mr Surapong denied knowing about a planned friendship football match between ‘Red Shirt’ movement and Cambodian officials, saying that he was not fit enough to join a football match.

Asked whether Mr Thaksin would attend the match, the minister said he did not know as he had not contacted Mr Thaksin for quite a while.

Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan, a key member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) also known as Red Shirt movement, said earlier that a friendly football match has been prepared and Mr Thaksin would be invited to attend the event.

Mr Surapong said Ms Yingluck began her official overseas trips since taking office with Brunei on Saturday was arranged according to alphabetical order, not because fugitive ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra has close relations with the Brunei government.

Ms Yingluck is the younger sister of Mr Thaksin.

After Brunei, Ms Yingluck was scheduled to make her first official visit to Indonesia on Monday, and on Thursday, she will visit Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, and fly to Vientiane on the following day.