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May 27, 6:36 AM EDT

Thailand revokes passports of ousted premier Thaksin


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BANGKOK (AP) -- Thai authorities said Wednesday they revoked two passports belonging to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra following an interview he gave in South Korea they said could affect national security.

Speaking to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper last week, Thaksin suggested that Thailand's Privy Council, which advises the nation's constitutional monarch, had engineered months of anti-government protests that culminated in a May 2014 coup.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who organized the coup, has insisted he staged it to restore stability and because there was no other way out of the country's political deadlock.

On Wednesday, the foreign ministry said in a statement that security agencies and police had advised that passports be canceled because the interview could impact Thailand's "security, safety and pride."

A highly divisive figure in Thai politics, Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup, and has lived in self-imposed exile before he was convicted in absentia on corruption charges in 2008. His supporters say the junta now in power is doing everything it can to eradicate his influence.

Thaksin became a billionaire in the telecommunications industry before ascending to the premiership. His sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, was removed from office just before the 2014 coup by a court ruling for illegally transferring a civil servant.

Deputy government spokesman Maj. Gen. Verachon Sukhonthapatiphak told reporters in Bangkok that Thaksin was not being targeted by the junta. He said the government had to take action after security agencies referred the issue to them.

Thaksin, who lives in Dubai, had his passport revoked by a previous Thai government in 2009. He acquired nationality and passports from Montenegro and Nicaragua, enabling him to travel, and Yingluck's government issued him new passports after she came to power in 2011.

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