Updated: 7:53am, Thursday March 22, 2018
Kampot provincial police on Wednesday briefly held and questioned a man hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen named him in a speech, claiming he was a potentially fake member of the monkhood and a “spy” who lied to people about the premier.
Speaking to workers in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen claimed “Monk Mary” moved around spreading false information about the premier. He ordered Kep Provincial Governor Ken Satha to locate the man immediately.
Hun Sen took exception to the man’s alleged claims that the premier would be arrested on last week’s trip to Australia for an Asean summit and that he had tried to evade journalists’ questions as he boarded the plane to the island nation.
The premier did not specify where these claims were made, but pointed to his phone during the speech. However, the monk could not be located on social media yesterday, and officials refused to release his real name.
“My speculation is that this guy is not a monk. This is not freedom of information. This guy must be a spy,” Hun Sen said.
Kep Provincial Police Chief Mao Chanmathurith said the man had been taken in for questioning Wednesday morning, but that he was later released.
“As I said, we just invited him for questioning. This is not an arrest,” he said.
Police officials said the man moved between Kep and Kampot, occasionally wearing monk’s robes and mostly keeping to himself.
“He had been a monk two times, and he left monkhood two weeks ago,” said Toch Sovann, Damnak Changaur district police chief in Kep. “Before the CNRP was dissolved, he was an activist for the party, but did not stand as any candidate.”