BANGKOK, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who remained overseas following last year's military coup, is unlikely to be returned to Thailand by British authorities on criminal extradition grounds, his legal adviser Noppadol Pattama said on Tuesday.
Noppadol, on returning from England where he met the deposed prime minister, was quoted by the state run Thai News Agency as saying that "Thaksin could not be extradited because he was merely politically persecuted by having his government toppled by the coup, his fortune frozen by the Assets Examination Committee and his Thai Rak Thai Party dissolved."
Noppadol said he had consulted with reputed British legal experts who assured him that it would be unlikely for the former prime minister to be extradited and the British courts might rule to keep Thaksin from being returned to Thailand, the report said.
He dismissed as groundless criticisms made earlier by members of the Council for National Security that Thaksin opted not to return to Thailand only to evade malfeasance charges involving his frozen assets and said the military junta had no grounds to discredit his client.
Noppadol stressed that Thaksin would not return until the general election has been held and democratic rule has returned to the country.
Asked to comment on speculation that another 2,000 million bath (34 baht to one U.S. dollars) in the Shinawatra family's fortune would soon be frozen under malfeasance charges, Noppadol said that Thaksin had earned all his wealth by legitimate means.