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Jailed pol’s daughter offers plea to Obama

Meach Sovannara appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2014.
Meach Sovannara appears at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2014. Vireak Mai

Jailed pol’s daughter offers plea to Obama

The daughter of opposition party official Meach Sovannara has written an open letter to US President Barack Obama, appealing to his own paternal instincts and asking him to intervene on her father’s behalf when Hun Sen visits the US in February with other ASEAN leaders.

Sovannara, a US citizen and the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s information chief, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted last July of “leading an insurrection”, a charge widely believed to be politically motivated.

On Wednesday, Sovannara’s family began circulating on social media a letter from Sovannara’s oldest daughter, Meach Socheata, 16, in which she accuses Hun Sen of using his political influence to see her father jailed, and of being behind the violent attack last October on two opposition lawmakers, one of whom also holds US citizenship.

“Mr. President I miss my daddy very dearly. My younger sisters, Jenny, 11, and Sarai, 7, really miss him too.

Especially Sarai is really sad. She can’t concentrate in school. My mom, Jamie Meach is having a rough time raising all of us alone,” the letter reads.

“Besides, my dad is really ill. I’m just overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do.

“I am 16 years old. Mr. President, your younger daughter is around my age. I am sure that you love your daughters very much. Our dad loves us very very much as well,” it continues.

However, government spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that there was little Obama could do to intervene, even if Sovannara is American.

“The local law must be respected and the foreign governments cannot interfere,” he said.

At the time of Sovannara’s conviction, the US Embassy issued a statement expressing its concern over the lack of transparency in the proceedings.

An embassy spokesman yesterday referred questions over whether Obama would raise the issue during the February visit to the White House, which could not be reached as of press time.

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