Filipina Lalaine de Guzman, 48, is demanding answers for the detention of her American partner by Cambodian immigration officers after he was arrested at their home almost 90 days ago.
She said without an arrest warrant or proffering any criminal charges, Stephen Sidney Greatsinger, 56, is being detained by Cambodian immigration officers upon a request by the US embassy.
On August 4, she said, Cambodian immigration officers stormed the couple’s apartment on St 163, in the capital’s Chamkarmon district and arrested Greatsinger who has been living with her in Cambodia for more than six years.
Guzman said the arrest happened after she went to the US embassy to collect a stimulus cheque on Greatsinger’s behalf as he is entitled to the Covid-19 relief package as a US citizen.
“At 12pm on August 4, I was on the ground floor of my apartment and I heard a man shouting something. I didn’t understand and asked what wrong I had committed? He said, ‘it’s not you . . . where is your husband?’ And I replied, ‘what did he do? He was just staying at home’,” Guzman told The Post in tears.
She said the officers who came in civvies did not present an arrest warrant or explain why Greatsinger was being held. They took him to the immigration department along Russian Boulevard in the Pochentong area of Por Sen Chey district.
“No reason at all [for the arrest]. They just said it’s the embassy [that] ordered them to make the arrest. When I asked the embassy officials, they said it had nothing to do with them and is an immigration matter.
“He [Greatsinger] was later charged under Article 35 of the Immigration Act which concerns deportation,” she said.
Guzman claimed Greatsinger is not subject to deportation as he holds a legal document to reside in Cambodia as a self-employed person.
“For deportation to take effect, a foreigner must fail to have a proper visa and work permit, but my partner has everything and we are living in Cambodia legally.
“The immigration officers claimed it is the US embassy that wants him deported, but according to the embassy, it is a Cambodian immigration matter. This has been going for some 90 days,” she said.
Guzman said she had hired two lawyers, one of whom told her that according to US embassy staff, Greatsinger is not allowed to seek legal counsel. Her lawyer then suggested she seek support from the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC).
Confirming this, CHRC spokesman, Chin Malin, who is also the spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said the CHRC committee had submitted a letter to the immigration department and the US embassy but neither had responded thus far.
“We have not acted further or intervened in the matter as we are unsure of the legal grounds for the arrest. We have only asked the immigration department to clarify the matter, confirm Greatsinger’s detention and what it is related to.
“We also sought information on whether his case involves a violation of immigration law, illegal entry, expiration of residence permit, or is due to criminal offences committed in Cambodia. However, we have not yet received any response.
“We have also sent the complaint to the US Embassy for it to intervene and provide its national with legal assistance,” he said.
US embassy spokesman Chad Roedemeier said it could not comment on the matter. “We cannot say anything about this case because of privacy concerns. We are not allowed to release any information about this person [Greatsinger],” he said.
Keo Vanthon, the deputy director-general of the General Department of Immigration at the Ministry of Interior, told The Post that Greatsinger had violated Cambodian immigration laws and will soon be deported.
“The alien named Stephen Sidney Greatsinger is being held by the General Department of Immigration prior to deportation. The ministry decided to deport him as per the Law on Immigration and in regards to a crime of intimidation,” he said.
Vanthon said Greatsinger has been charged under Article 36 of the law for the crime which was allegedly committed sometime in June this year. He said the immigration department did not curtail his right to seek legal representation.
Article 36 states that the Minister of Interior shall have the power to order the expulsion from the country of any alien whose behaviour or activity is dangerous to national security; or proven to be a dissident to the national security after the competent ministries had collected all specific evidence; or working in Cambodia without a work permit.
“In the case of this alien, the authorities have investigated and found evidence that this individual had threatened the US Ambassador and US embassy officials via email. He will be deported very shortly,” Vanthon said.