SIVARAK Chutipong, the Thai national convicted but later pardoned for his role in a spying scandal following a visit by fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has said he wants to return to work in Cambodia, according to Thai media reports.
His comments came Wednesday, as a senior Cambodian aviation official confirmed that the government plans to return control of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) – the air-traffic management company that employed Sivarak – back to its Thai owners.
“The government is planning to transfer CATS back,” said Soy Sokhan an undersecretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, without detailing exactly when the promised handover would occur.
CATS, owned by Samart Corp, was seized by the government, and its Thai staff were barred from its offices on November 19 after Sivarak’s arrest for stealing Thaksin’s flight schedule during his first visit to Cambodia.
The 31-year-old engineer was quickly convicted of espionage and sentenced to seven years in prison, but days later was pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni.
His release coincided with Thaksin’s second visit to Cambodia in the capacity of a government economics adviser, and was personally overseen by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The Bangkok Post reported Wednesday that Sivarak planned to return to his job at CATS. Sivarak’s mother, Simarak na Nakhon Phanom, said she was “not worried” because Hun Sen had assured her that Sivarak could stay “happily in Cambodia”.