Anti-cybercrime Department police have arrested a former Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) activist in the capital for allegedly insulting government leaders on social media.
The CNRP condemned the arrest of Mai Hongsreang, a party activist from Preah Sihanouk province, who was arrested on Tuesday night while travelling in Phnom Penh.
Fresh News quoted Chea Pov, the director of the Anti-Cybercrime Department, as saying Hongsreang had insulted government leaders by altering their pictures.
The Post could not reach Pov for comment on Wednesday.
However, National Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Chhay Kimkhoeun confirmed the arrest.
“The arrest is linked to messages [posted on his Facebook account] that insulted government leaders, inciting to commit a felony,” Kimkhoeun said on Wednesday.
He said Hongsreang fled to Thailand after a warrant was issued but had recently returned to face arrest.
Kimkhoeun declined to explain further as to the crimes police were investigating.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong said the court had not received the suspect from police as of Wednesday afternoon.
In a post on his “Even in death I am still Khmer” Facebook account on Saturday, Hongsreang criticised Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“If you are sick, be true to yourself. When I am sick I still smile and accept the truth. Don’t get away from national duties and take photos with your grandchild happily.
“Is my nation not as worthy as your grandchild? You are surviving because you plunder the nation,” he wrote.
His last post asked whether the wife of Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had imported pigs into Cambodia from Vietnam.
Before his arrest, Hongsreang posted a video explaining how he had previously escaped police.
“I have been in the forest since 2am. Police besieged the house the whole of last night. At 2am, I crawled through paddy fields and went into hiding in the forest. Now I am in the forest. It’s miserable, but it is fine because I love the nation,” he said.
The CNRP released a statement on Tuesday condemning the arrest of Hongsreang.
It said it was the fourteenth arrest of a CNRP activist so far this year and was made “arbitrarily, violating personal freedoms, laws and the Constitution”.
It demanded Hongsreang’s immediate and unconditional release.
“We call on the international community and in particular local and international human rights NGOs, to monitor the human rights situation in Cambodia and put pressure on the Phnom Penh regime to make it stop violating human rights, with threats and prosecutions against the CNRP and human rights activists in Cambodia,” a CNRP statement said.
Sam Rainsy told The Post on Wednesday that Hongsreang was arrested because Hun Sen was afraid after the “acting president” of the CNRP’s announced returning in September.
“Hun Sen wants to demoralise CNRP supporters who are planning to welcome me,” Rainsy claimed.