Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KNLF asylum seeker interrogated in court

KNLF asylum seeker interrogated in court

Khmer National Liberation Front member Hen Chan (second right) is escorted by guards into Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for questioning
Khmer National Liberation Front member Hen Chan (second right) is escorted by guards into Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for questioning. Hong Menea

KNLF asylum seeker interrogated in court

Ignoring human rights groups’ call to free the most recently arrested member of Denmark-based dissident group the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF), Phnom Penh Municipal Court instead summoned him for questioning yesterday.

Hen Chan, a 33-year-old Kampong Speu native, was charged last Thursday with assisting treason and forging a government document.

Chan’s questioning continued yesterday regarding his affiliation with an organisation the government considers a terrorist network, as well as how he procured an allegedly fake passport, according to investigating judge Im Vannak.

Chan was arrested at a taxi station in the capital’s Russey Keo district last week, said Chhay Sinnarith, chief of internal security police at the Ministry of Interior, “after police found he was carrying many books by the Khmer National Liberation Front hidden in a taxi”.

However, National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said that Chan was arrested after immigration police sent out an alert about a border crossing with a fake passport. Chantharith claimed that officials found and confiscated copies of the KNLF treatise only after the arrest.

Chan, who has no defence lawyer, yesterday acknowledged that he was a member of the KNLF, which is registered in Denmark as a humanitarian organisation, according to the Minority Rights Group. Chan admitted to using a fake passport to enter Cambodia via an Oddar Meanchey checkpoint, and to transporting 260 newly printed copies of Mystery of Cambodia, a book banned by Hun Sen’s government.

“I wanted to distribute to Cambodians KNLF’s vision, goal and objectives,” he said.

Human Rights Watch said that Chan was seeking refugee status in Thailand when he was arrested.

“At this point, the Cambodia office of the High Commissioner for Refugees should intervene.… Our view is that Hen Chan should be released immediately because he’s done nothing wrong. Really all he has done is exercise his right to freedom of expression, and joined with a group that the government doesn’t like,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s Asia deputy director.

Last month, in a trial condemned by rights monitors as lacking in evidence, 13 KNLF members were convicted with plotting to overthrow the government and were sentenced to between five and nine years in jail.

MOST VIEWED

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,

  • No word on state of emergency

    The National Assembly (NA) said it will postpone all unnecessary meetings in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it did not say when or how it will debate the “state of emergency”

  • State of emergency draft law set for NA

    A draft law aiming to place the Kingdom in a state of emergency amid the Covid-19 pandemic is set for a debate at the National Assembly (NA) after going through the Council of Ministers’ Standing Committee meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

  • NA, Senate set for bill on ‘emergency’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested the Senate to convene an extraordinary meeting to review the draft law that aims to put the Kingdom in a state of emergency after the bill reached the National Assembly (NA) on Friday. The draft law, which was approved

  • Tourists can now prolong their stay

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said tourists holding Visa T and arriving in the Kingdom after January 1 will be allowed to prolong their stay until they are able to return home. The decision comes as Cambodia and most countries take measures to

  • Hun Sen, ministers, officials donate salaries in virus fight

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials have decided to donate their salaries to the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 in support of the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Hun Sen announced in an April 1 letter that because the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia