- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand — Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has had his entry visa to Britain withdrawn, making him unable to return to London where he had been living in exile, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry said.

British authorities “have confirmed the decision to revoke the visas” of Thaksin and his wife Pojaman, Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thanee Thongpakdi said Saturday.

Thai media have said Thaksin is currently traveling in China, but it is unclear whether his wife is with him.

Thaksin, who fled Thailand in August to escape several charges including corruption, was sentenced in absentia by a Thai court in October to two years in prison. Prosecutors said they would seek his extradition from Britain.

Citing an unidentified airline source, the Bangkok Post and other Thai newspapers said the British embassy in Bangkok sent an e-mail to international airlines on Friday asking them not to allow Thaksin and his wife to board flights to the United Kingdom.

A Bangkok-based executive with a European airline confirmed that it had received the e-mail from the British embassy. He refused to have his name or airline identified, saying “in the current political climate, it would be unwise.”

A spokesman for Thaksin in Bangkok said British authorities had not contacted the former prime minister concerning his visa.

“I spoke with Thaksin’s secretary and he said that Thaksin still has not been notified by the British government,” Phongthep Thepkanjana said.

Phongthep said he did not know Thaksin’s current location.

Daniel Painter, a spokesman for the British embassy in Bangkok, declined to comment.

Britain’s Home Office and Foreign Office said they could not comment on individual cases.

A Thai court convicted Thaksin in October of violating a conflict-of-interest law by facilitating his wife’s purchase of lucrative Bangkok real estate from a state agency in 2003, while he was prime minister. His wife was acquitted.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power. He has said he fled from Thailand because he could not get a fair trial there, although the current government is led by his allies.

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