Nope, the CIA Isn’t Offering Asylum to Thai Protest Leaders

Pro-establishment protesters gather in front of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok on Oct. 27, 2020.
Pro-establishment protesters gather in front of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok on Oct. 27, 2020.

BANGKOK — The American Embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday denied reports that the U.S. spy agency has granted asylum to leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Thailand.

The claim was made by statistics professor Arnond Sakworawich, who accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, of approving the asylum requests for multiple protest leaders and allowing them to flee prosecution in Thailand. The claim was also published as a news article by Nation TV news agency.

“Several Free Youth kids have already applied for asylum in the United States,” Arnond, who teaches at the National Institute of Development Administration, said in his Monday’s Facebook post.

“The CIA approved their application. These kids will be able to spruce up themselves and study with scholarships granted by the U.S. They will probably return and teach at Thammasat in the next five to ten years.”


But a statement released by the U.S. Embassy suggests otherwise. It said any application for asylum in the United States would be processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the USCIS.

“Recently, there has been a claim about political asylum in the U.S. which is absolutely false,” the statement wrote. “Such accusations show the lack of understanding in the asylum process, in which the applicant must be in the U.S. in order to apply for the asylum status.”

“Other government agencies in the U.S. may not process the application for asylum.”


Pro-establishment figures often claim that foreign governments are “meddling” in Thai politics and engineering the protests against PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Last week, Harutai Muangboonsri, a celebrity and key member of the newly founded royalist group Thai Phakdee, led a crowd of a dozen people to stage a protest in front of the U.S. embassy and urged the American government to stop waging “Hybrid War” in Thailand.

The embassy was also accused by a hardline royalist group called Thailand Vision of funding the pro-democracy rallies, a claim denied by the embassy.