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Analyst Kim Sok in hiding after threats from Hun Sen

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Political analyst Kim Sok is escorted into a police vehicle last year. Heng Chivoan

Analyst Kim Sok in hiding after threats from Hun Sen

After repeated warnings from Prime Minister-designate Hun Sen pertaining to a court award for past convictions, political analyst Kim Sok has allegedly gone into hiding on claims that he and his family feel their safety is being threatened.

Last week, the leader ordered Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lawyers to demand compensation from Sok, who had just recently been released from prison during a spate of unprecedented royal pardons for opposition supporters.

Sok was initially convicted of “incitement to commit a felony” and defamation of the ruling party. He was ordered to pay a fine of 800 million riel ($200,000).

However, responding to Hun Sen’s demands, Sok claimed that he is poor, has no money to pay the fine, and only has a “patriot’s heart”.

On Friday, Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said on his Facebook page: “BREAKING NEWS: Sok crossed the border already and [was] let go so that he can see how large the earth is.”

Contacted on Sunday, Sok admitted that he had gone into hiding after receiving multiple threats publicly and secretly. He said he feared for the safety of his six-year-old daughter.

“My daughter and I would like to hide for a while because there are many serious threats against us publicly and secretly.

“They could not suppress me, so they turned to use my daughter to suppress me. I need to be careful about my daughter’s safety, so I am forced to find a safe place for her before I reappear in public,” he said, declining to comment on whether he had left the country.

A fellow analyst, Meas Nee, said that he admired Sok’s courage, but suggested that journalists stop interviewing him for the time being to ensure his safety.

“I congratulate [him] on his release, but I am concerned about some of his interviews relating to the situation in Cambodia.

“I really admire his courage to talk because he talks the truth, But I think journalists should stop interviewing him for a while. We also know that he just left prison, he is resentful and angry … sometimes, his words might reflect his emotions ... in Cambodia there is an old saying; ‘real words are bitter’,” he said.

Hun Sen’s lawyer Ly Tech could not be reached for comment.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment on Sok’s situation, except to say that the court would proceed without interference.