Clinton calls on Laos to find missing activist

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Associated Press

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 16 at 2:04 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is urging Laos to investigate the disappearance a month ago of a prominent social activist and reunite him with his family.

International pressure is growing on the authoritarian government in Vientiane to account for Sombath Somphone, 60. Closed-circuit TV footage shows him being detained by police in Vientiane on Dec. 15, and then driven away in the company of two unidentified men.

Clinton's statement called on the government to pursue a transparent investigation and to do everything in its power to bring about his "immediate and safe return home."

Laos has disavowed responsibility for the disappearance, suggesting Sombath was kidnapped over a personal dispute.

The Southeast Asian nation's government is intolerant of dissent, but associates say Sombath's work was neither directly political nor confrontational.

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