Cambodia arrests opposition leader, alleging treason

Kristopher Drake
September 3, 2017

Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chairman of the organization, said the arrest violated the immunity protection that should be afforded Mr. Kem Sokha as a member of Cambodia's Parliament. The newspaper said it was being forced out of business by a massive bill for back tax.

Kem Sokha was arrested at his house in a police swoop at 00:35 AM on September 3.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak the next step would a trial.

He was arrested after video footage from the Australia-based CBN news was posted on Facebook in which Mr Sokha told his audience that the U.S. government had been helping him to change the government in Cambodia since 1993.

The capture was made after Cambodia's police found a video broadcast by Cambodian Broadcasting Network (CBN) headquartered in Australia and other evidence showing Kem Sokha and his accomplices secretly conspired with foreigners to harm Cambodia.

He added that Mr Sokha had confessed that the USA helped him and used academics and others to plan the change of government.

Cambodia's opposition leader and President of the National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha talks during an interview with Reuters in Prey Veng province, Cambodia May 28, 2017.

During Hun Sen's rule Cambodia emerged from the devastating Khmer Rouge genocide to enjoy record years of economic growth of above 7 percent, but disaffection has been growing and he only just won the 2013 election against a unified opposition. Sam Rainsy remains overseas in self-imposed exile.

Mr Hun Sen also warned that the CNRP could be dissolved if the opposition party tried to defend Mr Sokha. Hun Sen also warned the US and other foreign countries not to interfere in Cambodian politics. "Instead, the Daily has been targeted for an astronomical tax assessment, leaks and false statements by the tax department and public vilification by the head of government before an audit, much less a legal proceeding". The National Democratic Institute, a US-funded pro-democracy organization, was shut down and foreign staff given seven days to leave the country.

The arrest "sends a very clear signal that democracy in Cambodia is under severe threat", she said, adding that if Kem Sokha is not released, "it's very clear there will be no free and fair elections" in 2018. In recent years, he has become one of China's closest regional allies, and made increasingly strident verbal attacks on the European Union, the United Nations, and the USA, as well as any worldwide organizations that criticized him for violations of human or political rights.

An independent newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, has been ordered to halt publishing by Monday because of a tax dispute, and at least 15 radio stations have been ordered to stop broadcasting programming from the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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