Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen batted down speculation that he caved to international pressure after an opposition leader was released from jail, claiming the decision was made for his ailing foe's health and safety.
Kem Sokha, the co-founder of the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested on treason charges in September two months before the Supreme Court dissolved his party.
The moves came during a sweeping crackdown led by the 66-year-old strongman and paved the way for an easy election victory in July that was lambasted as a sham.
But in the aftermath of the vote Hun Sen has returned to a pattern of easing up on dissent and scores of activists and former opposition members have been freed.
Kem Sokha was the most prominent of those let go and his Sept 10 release on bail fuelled theories that Hun Sen was worried about the country's large clothing industry losing duty-free access to European markets.
European parliamentarians have floated the possibility of revisiting the trade scheme.
But the bombastic head of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, who has been in power for more than 33 years, told garment workers in a speech that he did not bow to "international pressure".
"It was just the change of the location of detention in case he dies in prison and causes trouble to the government," Hun Sen said, not mentioning the duty-free deal.
He added that the decision was prompted by "humanitarian and safety concerns for the suspect".
Sokha, 65, spent more than a year in a remote prison near the Vietnamese border before his release.
Over the course of his detention he was repeatedly denied bail even as his lawyers pointed to Sokha's high blood pressure and diabetes.
The conditions of his bail are severe. He is supposed to stay within a block radius of his residence and is forbidden to meet with foreigners or host political rallies.
Lawyer Meng Sopheary said the opposition leader was taking medication regularly but still needed a full examination.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK