Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government spokesman calls for arrest of FB user who ‘threatened’ prime minister

Government spokesman calls for arrest of FB user who ‘threatened’ prime minister

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Government spokesman Phay Siphan calls for the immediate arrest of a Facebook user who posted a ‘death threat’ aimed at Prime Minister Hun Sen. Heng Chivoan

Government spokesman calls for arrest of FB user who ‘threatened’ prime minister

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said he had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior, calling for the immediate arrest of a Facebook user who it said posted a death threat aimed at Prime Minister Hun Sen. The ministry, however, said it has not received any such information.

On his Facebook account on Saturday, Siphan wrote: “A Facebook user ‘Tharith Bun’ wanted to kill Prime Minister Hun Sen, which is illegal, therefore, he needs to be prosecuted in accordance with the laws”.

Siphan also offered a reward to any individual who was able to “identify the young man’s parents or his location”.

Speaking to The Post, Siphan said he is hopeful that the Interior Ministry would take action against the person who made a death threat against Hun Sen.

He said, “the prime minister is protected by the law, therefore, he cannot be insulted, threatened or intimidated”.

“I had educated the young individual before deciding to take actions. We explained to him [that committing incitement is illegal], but he rudely carried on doing the same thing."

“This shows that the suspect intended to create chaos. I know the individual currently resides and works in Thailand, but I am not sure of his exact whereabouts. Let the authority take actions,” Siphan said.

He also called for the extradition of the man to face the law in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for additional comments as he was engaged at a meeting.

Deputy spokesperson Phat Sophanith told The Post that he has not obtained any information regarding the complaint and that he was busy with preparations of the ministry’s annual meeting.

The Post reached out to the owner of the Facebook account who responded by saying the arrest warrant was “normal”.

“An arrest warrant from a senior government official is normal due to my criticism over the limited freedom and low price of rice in Cambodia,” Bun Tharith said.

The spokesperson from rights group Adhoc, Soeung Sen Karuna, said he was not aware of any death threat on anyone’s Facebook account as claimed by Siphan.

He said if the Interior Ministry would take legal action against the so-called suspect, it shows double standards from the government.

He argued that the groups which oppose the government most likely could not avoid punishment, whilst the opposite group will not be punished even if they commit a similar crime.

“Criticising the government, for example on taxation matters, is a common practice in a democratic country. Such activity simply represents freedom of expression."

“But if it were a death threat, we should carefully examine the message as to not affect the safety of the prime minister,” he said.