Cambodia frees activist as ties warm with Thai junta

July 1st, 2014  
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Topic: Cambodia frees activist as ties warm with Thai junta

Cambodia on Tuesday released a jailed Thai activist whose 2011 sentence for spying stoked a long-running diplomatic row with neighboring Thailand that escalated into border skirmishes between rival troops. The pardon for Veera Somkwamkid, an ultra-nationalist jailed for eight years for espionage and trespassing, is the latest move by Prime Minister Hun Sen to develop a relationship with the military running Thailand since a May 22 coup. The gesture appears to be an abrupt change in stance by Hun Sen, a shrewd, veteran politician who caused a stir in 2009 when he offered asylum to Thaksin Shinawatra, a fugitive former Thai premier, whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra led the government toppled by the generals in May. Veera commanded a splinter faction of the "yellow shirts", an anti-Thaksin movement once backed by Thailand's conservative establishment and military and reviled by Hun Sen because of its fierce nationalist agenda against Cambodia.


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