Cambodia arrests opposition leader for 'treason'

Cambodia arrests opposition leader for 'treason'

Cambodia arrests opposition leader for 'treason'

Sam Rainsy has been living in self-exile in France since 2015 after facing a lawsuit filed against him by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Steven Butler, Asia program director for the Committee to Project Journalists, told NPR the recent events in Cambodia are part of a growing antagonism toward a free press throughout Southeast Asia.

Sokha was arrested during a pre-dawn raid on his Phnom Penh home on Sunday for allegedly secretly planning against the government with the backing of the United States.

The Cambodian Government described the above act as treason and espionage and said the court will handle this case according to the country's regulations.

The government said the video clip and other evidence collected by authorities clearly indicated the conspiracy between Sokha and his accomplices with a foreign power, which harms Cambodia.

The U.S. State Department expressed "grave concern" at Sokha's arrest on charges it said appeared to be politically motivated.

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Kem Monovitthya, one of the politician's daughters, said on Facebook that her father had been handcuffed and taken away after hundreds of policemen raided his home.

Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Khieu Sopheak said Kem Sokha was being held at the Tropeang Phlong prison facility in Tbuong Khmum province, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Phnom Penh.

If Kem Sokha is found guilty of any offence, it could allow the government to shut the party under a new law that forbids parties from having a leader who has been convicted. Sam Rainsy remains overseas in self-imposed exile.

"This is the political strategy for democratic countries, that's what they do".

The opposition party lost to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party in local elections in June, but it did well enough to increase expectations of a close contest in the 2018 vote.

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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Its final headline, on the arrest of Kem Sokha, was "Descent Into Outright Dictatorship".

The Cambodia Daily, known for critical coverage of issues such as corruption, human rights and the environment, was ordered to shut down if it could not pay $6.3 million to cover 10 years of back taxes by Monday.

Last week, the USA expressed "deep concern" over the state of Cambodia's democracy after the government there ordered out an American NGO.

Last month, the local office of the US-based National Democratic Institute was shuttered by Cambodia and its foreign employees were ordered to leave the country within seven days.

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

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