A former Khmer Rouge diplomat has been living in the United States after his
diplomatic status expired.
The New York Times this month disclosed that
Thiounn Prasith - who represented the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations from the
late 1970s until 1991 - was living in the New York suburb of Mount
The Times quoted Prasith as saying he was living in the US
legally, and had given up politics to devote the rest of his life to his
The presence of Prasith - who the Times reported had been close
to KR leader Pol Pot and had defended his regime before the UN - has upset some
Prasith was the KR's UN representative at a time when
the world recognized a coalition of three oppositions groups - the KR, Funcinpec
and the KPLNF - as the legitimate Cambodian government following the Vietnamese
ousting of the KR.
As such, Prasith was given a base in New York and a
The KR's withdrawal from the UN elections agreed
under the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement saw him lose his position.
the Times' article, the US State Department confirmed that Prasith was living in
the US. However, deputy spokesman David Johnson said the department had no role
in deciding to allow Prasith to stay in the US.
But Reuters reported that
the US Immigration and Naturalization Service said it had no knowledge of
"We could not find any verification that this individual was
admitted to the United States or that there had been any adjustment of his
status. This man is not in our system," spokesman Dan Kane said.
maintained that any decision about Prasith's immigration status would have had
to have been approved by the State Department.
The New York Times
reported that Prasith, as a prominent former KR official, was of interest to the
State Department-funded Cambodian Genocide Program.
The program is
investigating genocide under the KR's 1975-79 rule.