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Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cambodia jails Thai man, Siwarak Chothipong, for spying

Siwarak Chothipong at Phnom Penh municipal court, 8 December
Siwarak has denied leaking details of Thaksin's flights

An air traffic controller in Cambodia has been jailed for seven years for spying on Thai ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra during an official visit last month.

Siwarak Chothipong, who is Thai, was accused of passing Mr Thaksin's private flight details to Thai diplomats.

Mr Thaksin caused a diplomatic uproar when he was named an economic adviser to Cambodia despite being wanted in Thailand to serve time for corruption.

Ties between the neighbours were already tense over a border dispute.

Diplomatic manoeuvres

The judge said Siwarak, 31, had breached security by leaking the details of Mr Thaksin's private flights while Mr Thaksin was a guest of the government.

But the seven-year sentence was actually the lightest possible for spying. The maximum would have been 15.

Thai officials have indicated they will try to reduce it further - by helping Siwarak to appeal, or asking for a royal pardon from Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni.

One of the entrance buildings at Preah Vihear

There has also been speculation in Thailand that Mr Thaksin may intervene to secure Siwarak's release, the BBC's Guy De Launey reports from Phnom Penh.

Cambodia's relationship with its larger neighbour has deteriorated since July last year - when it secured World Heritage status for an ancient temple in a disputed border area.

Last month's appointment of Mr Thaksin as a special economic adviser to the government in Phnom Penh made matters worse.

A mutual withdrawal of ambassadors followed, as Thailand accused Cambodia of political interference.

The Thai tycoon was toppled in a 2006 coup and is living in self-imposed exile to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Financial TimesCambodia sentences Thai for Thaksin leak - 21 hrs ago
CTV.ca Spy cases raises tension between Cambodia, Thailand - 27 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Thai man jailed 7 years for spying in Cambodia - 27 hrs ago
Washington PostCambodian court convicts Thai man of spying - 28 hrs ago
Boston Globe Alleged Thai spy in Cambodian court - 35 hrs ago
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