Cambodia Daily to close in media crackdown

04 September, 2017, 10:59 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason

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.

Journalists work at the newsroom of The Cambodia Daily newspaper in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, September 3, 2017.

More than a dozen radio stations carrying opposition content, along with USA -funded broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, have also been forced to close, the Daily reported.

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in a pre-dawn raid at his home on Sunday after being accused by veteran prime minister Hun Sen of treason with the backing of the United States.

A group of local radio stations which carried Khmer-language VOA and RFA content have also been shuttered or banned from broadcasting their content.

Sokha, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was arrested early on Sunday at his home in Phnom Penh and sent to a prison in Tboung Khmum province, about 150 km from here.

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 increasing and he only just won the 2013 election against a unified opposition.

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"The Royal Government of Cambodia informs that according to a video clip broadcast on CBN (Cambodian Broadcasting Network) in Australia and other evidence collected, it clearly shows secret plans of a conspiracy between Kem Sokha, others and foreigners to harm the Kingdom of Cambodia", said a report from government-run media outlet Fresh News. The statement gave no details but called the actions "treason". "The act of treason by conspiring with foreign country, betraying his own nation, requires immediate arrest", Xinhua news quoted the Prime Minister as saying. "This is a clear crime and there's no need to make further investigation because he has confessed already". She purchased The Daily's assets from her father in April and will return them, the paper said.

Mu Sochua, a vice-president of the opposition party, insisted that the charges had been fabricated. She told The Associated Press the arrest violated the constitution but added, "This government has not cared about the law in quite some time".

The party called for his release and urged the worldwide community to intervene.

It marks an escalation in a campaign against any potential threats to Mr Hun Sen's hold on power ahead of an election next year at which Mr Kem Sokha, 64, has been expected to be his main challenger.

John Sifton of Human Rights Watch tweeted that his organisation was "calling on governments worldwide to summon Cambodia's ambassadors for a dress down".

The government released a video on its Facebook page in which Kem Sokha appeared to tell a group of supporters about a strategy to win power which he said had the support of "the Americans" rather than an immediate plot to topple Hun Sen.

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