PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – A Cambodian labor activist faces deportation home from Thailand over his role in making a sex-trafficking documentary that angered the southeast Asian nation’s government, which dismissed it as fake, his wife said on Friday.
The ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen has launched a crackdown on those it says are critics of the government, including human rights advocates and opposition politicians.
Rath Rott Mony, 47, was arrested in Bangkok on Friday as he attempted to travel to the Netherlands with his family after helping produce the documentary for the Russia Today channel in October.
His wife, Long Kimheang, told Reuters from Bangkok she feared Thai police would send him back to Cambodia.
“Police arrested my husband and they told me that Cambodian police had sent them a document, saying he produced a false story,” Long Kimheang said.
“I am worried when they deport my husband, he will be put in prison.”
Thai immigration officials were not immediately available for comment.
In a statement, Russia Today said it was highly concerned about the detention.
“We…are doing everything we can to help resolve the situation, including via diplomatic channels,” it said, adding that it never pays participants or interview subjects.
The documentary, titled “My Mother Sold Me”, included an account of a poor Cambodian girl who was sold into sex work, prompting authorities to question those involved.
Authorities later said the mother and daughter were paid to lie in the documentary, according to Cambodian police.
Cambodian police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun confirmed that police had asked for Rath Rott Mony, president of the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation (CCTUF), to be deported.
“The documentary is a made-up story that destroys Cambodia’s culture and reputation,” he said.
Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez