Cambodian opposition leader arrested for treason

Police in Cambodia have arrested opposition leader Kem Sokha, charging him with collaboration with foreign enemies to overthrow the government.

Hun Sen was quoted as telling a group of garment factory workers that the "third party" behind the plot was the same as that behind a 1973 coup that is widely believed to have had US support.

In a video clip released by the government purporting to show Sokha speaking to supporters in Australia some years ago, the CNRP president says he was told by US representatives that in a democratic society change must come from below.

DeJonge said that The Cambodia Daily had "never taken a penny" from foreign governments or NGOs and just about broke even thanks to advertising, subscriptions and money from Krisher. Details of the alleged plot have not been made public.

According to a subsequent government statement, Sokha's "treason" can be seen in a video clip published online by Cambodian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which is based in Australia.

Sokha is facing charges of treason and espionage under article 443 of the country's Criminal Code, a government statement said.

Hours after Kem Sokha's arrest on Sunday, the independent Cambodia Daily newspaper announced that it was closing from Monday after 24 years because of the government's demand for millions of dollars in back taxes.

"These measures undercut Cambodia's progress in recent decades and raise serious questions about the government's ability to organise credible national elections in 2018 which produce an outcome that enjoys democratic legitimacy", said the U.S. embassy.


Hun Sen, 65, has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades.

The CNRP in a statement on Sunday called for Sokha's immediate release and condemned the arrest of a lawmaker in violation of his constitutional immunity. Sam Rainsy remains overseas in self-imposed exile.

His Cambodian People's Party won local elections in June, but the opposition also did well, increasing expectations of a close contest in the general election due in 2018.

The government appeared to have based part of its claims against Kem Sokha on a video clip that shows the opposition leader giving a public speech in which he describes a grassroots political strategy to challenge Hun Sen with United States support. "For months, we have been witnessing the escalation of government attempts to cripple the opposition, but it appears now that Prime Minister Hun Sen is so afraid of what might happen in a genuine vote, he won't allow for competition at all".

"It will cease publication as of September 4, 2017", the newspaper said.

Last month, the government stopped broadcasts by some radio stations and ordered an independent newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, to pay $6 million in tax, or face closure.

The government also ordered the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute, a pro-democracy nonprofit organization that is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party of the United States.


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