They were the victims of an extortion racket that has ensnared other foreign travellers at the airport, which handles most of the 800,000 British visitors to Thailand every year.
Stephen Ingram, 49, and Xi Lin, 45, both technology professionals from Cambridge, were detained by security guards as they went to board Qantas flight QF1 to London on the night of Saturday, April 25.
They were accused of taking a Givenchy wallet worth £121 from a King Power duty-free shop and were handed over to the police. An official release order from the local Thai prosecutor’s office subsequently conceded there was no evidence against them.
They were freed five days later after a frightening ordeal in which they said they were threatened and held against their will at a cheap motel on the airport perimeter until they had handed over the money.
The bribes were paid to an intermediary named Sunil “Tony” Rathnayaka, a Sri Lankan national in his fifties who works as a “volunteer” interpreter for Thailand’s tourist police (motto: “To serve and to protect”).
“Our main motivation is to protect other innocent British tourists from being caught up in this nightmare,” said Ingram last week. “We intend to take every legal means to recover our money and obtain justice.”
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