Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Analyst Kim Sok arrested, jailed after showing up for questioning

Analyst Kim Sok arrested, jailed after showing up for questioning

Political analyst Kim Sok walks with Buddhist monks to the Phnom Penh municipal court on Friday where he was arrested for defamation and inciting unrest.
Political analyst Kim Sok walks with Buddhist monks to the Phnom Penh municipal court on Friday where he was arrested for defamation and inciting unrest. Heng Chivoan

Analyst Kim Sok arrested, jailed after showing up for questioning

Political analyst Kim Sok was charged, arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on Friday afternoon after showing up for questioning at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, according to court spokesman Ly Sophana.

Sok faces a pair of defamation and incitement cases filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The first came after statements the premier alleges suggest the ruling Cambodian People Party’s involvement in the July murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

The second, ironically, came after Sok went on Radio Free Asia to explain his original statement. His explanation, that he was speaking about a government-controlled “system” that allowed murders to happen with impunity, resulted in defamation case number two.

After several hours of questioning on Friday by prosecutor Sieng Sok and investigating judge Ros Piseth, was sent to Prey Sar prison, detained on charges of public defamation and incitement under articles 305, 494 and 495 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, according to Sophana.

The prime minister is seeking just over $500,000 in compensation for the two complaints. The incitement charges carry a prison sentence of up to two years.

Sam Zarifi, Asia director for the International Commission of Jurists, yesterday condemned the analyst’s arrest, saying that pre-trial detention was unwarranted.

Zarifi also argued that Sok’s summonsing just hours after the prime minister had filed the complaint, followed by his speedy arrest, seemed to suggest the case was politically motivated, adding that Cambodia’s judiciary was “under immense political pressure”.

Further, the demand for $500,000 in damages was excessive, he said, adding that Sok’s statements were not designed to lead to violence, a requirement for incitement charges under international law.

He said there was a trend in Cambodia to misuse defamation cases to silence critics. “I think this is a restrictive environment for elections, even more so than the last elections,” he said.

Active in politics with the Norodom Ranariddh Party, then later the Khmer Front Party and Funcinpec, Sok spent 2011-15 in China pursuing a master’s degree in finance.

He emerged as an analyst in the wake of Ley’s murder, and began accepting invitations to speak on radio talk shows.

Voice of Democracy director Nop Vy said they used Sok as a commentator for his “good analysis of politics and society”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • EDC tackles power shortfall

    Electrcite Du Cambodge (EDC) on Monday issued a statement updating the public on its efforts to tackle insufficient electricity supplies during the ongoing dry season. Reductions in electricity prices have resulted in a steady increase in consumers in the Kingdom, while local and international investors

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with