Thaksin's passports revoked, faces probe for lese majeste

Thaksin's passports revoked, faces probe for lese majeste

Police are investigating whether former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's recent interview insulted the monarch as the Foreign Ministry revoked his two passports on grounds that his remarks in the interview had endangered national security.

In a statement published on its website, the Foreign Ministry said Thaksin's U957441 and Z530117 passports were revoked with effect from Tuesday.

It explained that the decision followed an alert from security authorities regarding Thaksin's recent interview, part of which they believed would have an impact on the security, reputation and integrity of the Kingdom.

"The Foreign Ministry decided that the reasons cited [by security agencies and police] were enough to cancel his passports under the ministry's regulations," the statement said.

The statement also said police are in the process of investigating whether Thaksin had violated criminal laws, including lese majeste, and the Computer Crime Act.

Thaksin's diplomatic passport had earlier been revoked on December 12, 2008 after he was convicted of malfeasance over conflict of interest in the Rachadaphisek land deal.

On April 12, 2009, his normal passport was cancelled by the administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The then foreign minister Kasit Piromya said the revocation was due to Thaksin's backing for the unrest led by the red-shirt United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship.

However, the normal passport was returned to him when Surapong Tovichakchaikul took office as a foreign minister in the Yingluck administration. Surapong said Thaksin was no threat to the Kingdom and it was the right of every Thai to hold a Thai passport.

Reacting to the latest move yesterday, Surapong shrugged off the revocation of Thaksin's passports and said that if he came back as the foreign minister, he would certainly order the ministry to return the passports to Thaksin because the former PM had done nothing wrong at all.

"Expressing an opinion does not cause any damage and cannot be blocked. It is up to the public to believe what he said or not. Khun Thaksin should have the right to explain the facts," Surapong said.

Meanwhile National Legislative Assembly member Somchai Sawangkarn backed the Foreign Ministry's decision, saying it was the result of Thaksin's interview that defamed individuals and affected national security.

He did not think the move would have any repercussion or political movement, but would affect only those who served under Thaksin."

Somchai was one of the so-called 40 senators' group, who used to campaign for revocation of Thaksin's passports during the Yingluck government.

Another senator Prasarn Marukpitak, said he wanted to urge the Royal Thai Police to strip Thaksin off his rank of police lieutenant colonel because his wrongdoings were very obvious.

Deputy government spokesman Maj-General Weerachon Sukhontapatipak said that the police had gathered and sent a list of those whose passports could be revoked to the ministry for a decision.

"Thaksin is one of those in the list. The government did not focus just on Thaksin's case and the Foreign Ministry made its decision based on the evidence. If the government had ignored this provocation, it would be blamed for being negligent to wrongdoers."

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