Phnom Penh (dpa) – A Thai student activist accused of lese-majeste, or insulting Thailand’s monarchy, has sought asylum in Cambodia, local media reported Thursday.
A warrant for Ekkapob Luara’s arrest was issued by Thailand’s military government in June, The Cambodia Daily reported, adding that Cambodia’s Interior Ministry had confirmed he was seeking asylum.
“He did apply. His application is under procedure … We have to know whether it is a real case, why he is applying,” the paper quoted Kerm Sarin, head of the immigration department’s refugee bureau, as saying.
The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh refused to comment on the case. According to The Nation newspaper, Ekkapob made the comments at a red-shirt rally last year.
The monarchy is traditionally revered in Thailand, where lese-majeste laws also place the royals above criticism.
People convicted of lese-majeste face prison sentences of between three and 15 years. Critics argue the laws are abused to advance political agendas.
Thailand’s military made crackdowns on lese-majeste infringements one of its priorities when it assumed power earlier this year. Since a coup in May, 18 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy.