Three young CNRP members, who, fearing arrest, fled Cambodia last year after being implicated in the case of imprisoned opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour, have arrived in France after an extended stay in the Philippines, where they were seeking asylum in the West.
Though the Post was unable to confirm whether the trio had been granted asylum, Facebook status updates, a family member and party sources confirmed the group left Manila last week and flew to France via China.
Sambath Satya, 25, and Chong Leang Ueng, 20, administer the Facebook page of CNRP president Sam Rainsy. Satya’s brother, Sambath David, was a personal assistant to Sok Hour, who is a Sam Rainsy Party senator.
The trio fled to Thailand in August last year after being named in connection with an incitement and forgery case against Sok Hour, who was arrested that month for presenting a “fake” border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam in a video posted on Rainsy’s Facebook page.
At least two of the group – Satya and Leang Ueng – were subsequently named in a warrant as conspirators in the case, as was Rainsy. Meanwhile, Sok Hour has languished in prison after his trial stalled soon after it started.
Speaking yesterday, David and Satya’s sister, Sambath Rose-Marya, said she was aware the pair had received a visa to enter and work in France. However, she was not aware what documents they possessed.
Though happy her brothers were safe, she said the pair, who are separated from their family, was still suffering.
“They feel isolated . . . It is different from living in prison though, at least they can walk freely,” Rose-Marya said. “They are concerned about their mother’s health . . . [but] we encouraged them to struggle, because there are leaders and people who encourage and support them.”
The French Embassy yesterday declined to comment on the case, with a spokeswoman saying that such matters were “confidential”.
A representative from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – who initially gave assistance to the trio during their escape, according to an opposition source at the time – yesterday referred questions to the French authorities.
On his Facebook page, David, whose profile picture features the Eiffel Tower, said he missed his family.“In Paris, the weather is a little bit cool but I feel so cold when I’m away from loved ones,” he wrote. “I miss all of you very much including mum, dad, older brother and younger sister.”
Investigating judge Keo Vandy, who issued the arrest warrant for Satya and Leang Ueng, declined to comment.