The two passports belonging to former education minister and senior Pheu Thai Party politician Chaturon Chaisaeng were revoked yesterday without the passport holder being informed about it.
Sources from the Foreign Ministry said police had made the request for revocation while a spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said he was not aware of any order by the junta.
"I don't know about it," said Chaturon, sounding surprised and laughing it off on the phone at around 5pm before excusing himself to verify the matter. Chaturon later called back and said he would have to check with the authorities afterwards.
"I will have to ask for a clear explanation in order to regain my rights," said Chaturon. He said that since the coup and the conditions earlier imposed on all who had been summoned by the NCPO to seek permission before travelling abroad, his request to travel outside the Kingdom had been twice rejected.
Chaturon is facing charges including refusing to comply with the orders of the NCPO for failing to report himself after being summoned in the immediate aftermath of the May 22 coup last year and is facing trial in a military court. Most recently, he has been publicly critical of the junta-sponsored draft constitution.
Sources said the request to cancel Chaturon's passports, consisting of ordinary and diplomatic passports, was made by the police to the Foreign Ministry two weeks ago for criticising the government of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha. The cancellation of the passports was effected by the Foreign Ministry yesterday.
As of press time yesterday, NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said he had no knowledge of the matter. "There should be a reason for that," he said.
A senior official at the Foreign Ministry, who declined to be named, said police had made the request two weeks ago but did not give a clear reason.
Article 21 of the ministry's 2005 regulation on passports states that the court, police or Interior officials have the authority to request revocation of passports of those banned from travelling or serving a sentence or who are wanted under arrest warrants.
"It's routine work at the Foreign Ministry to revoke passports belonging to such persons," the official said.
The ministry has informed all Thai embassies and consulates abroad about the revocation of Chaturon's passports.