BANGKOK -The United States Department of State says it is deeply troubled by the Thai junta’s detention of Ruengkrai Leekitwattana after he was reportedly held over a letter addressed to a U.S. diplomat at the Bangkok Embassy.
Thai media reported that former Senator Ruengkrai Leekitwattana, a legal expert of the Pheu Thai Party, has been held at an army camp since Frday. He reportedly sent an open letter to U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Patrick Murphy critical of the military government installed after a May coup.
The State Departmen said it has heard of the reports and has called for Thai authorities to stop summoning and detaining political figures, academics, journalists, online commentators, and peaceful protesters.
It urged the immediate release of those held for attitude adjustmments.
“There has to be a full restoration both of the institutions of governance and justice as well as the full restoration of a duly democratically elected civilian government,” the senior State Department official told journalists.
It follows a recent visit by Daniel Russel, the most senior US official to travel to the kingdom since Thai generals imposed martial law and took over in a coup last May.
The United States strongly condemned the coup at the time, with chief diplomat John Kerry calling for a return to civilian rule via democratic elections.
Washington and Bangkok maintain a military alliance dating to the Cold War and the fight against communism in Southeast Asia, notably during the Vietnam War.
US and Thai armed forces remain tightly linked, but the United States cancelled joint military exercises after the coup and suspended a small part of its military assistance to Thailand. – AFP