By Lauren Crothers
PHNOM PENH (AA) - The leader of an outlawed Cambodian nationalist group has claimed that its members are being hunted by both Thai and Cambodian police in Bangkok, and that they are now on the run and fear for their safety.
Sam Serey, exiled founder of the outlawed Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF), wrote in an email to Anadolu Agency late Tuesday that he is “seriously concerned about the safety of KNLF members in Thailand”.
The KNLF, which was established in 2012, considers Cambodia to be a neo-colonial puppet, with its neighbor, Vietnam holding the strings.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has branded the group a terrorist organization, and dozens of members have been jailed for a variety of accusations that range from planting explosives near the Thai border to plotting to overthrow the government.
Serey has alleged that he received notice from two colleagues in Thailand “that Hun Sen's forces and Thai police have been searching at large to arrest them in Thailand”.
He added that “all KNLF members are escaping” from Bangkok and that “they are now in serious concern about their safety.”
Seven KNLF members currently serving jail sentences for an alleged plot to overthrow the government were arrested by Thai authorities in Thailand in 2013, and spirited to Cambodia, where they were put on trial.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that he had “no idea” about any kind of bilateral arrest operation, and that if it even existed, “it would be a part of national security.”
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith and Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Serey told Anadolu Agency by phone from Denmark -- where he lives in exile -- Wednesday that the supposed operation had been in place for a few days.
He also alleged that a number of members behind bars were sick.