Government mouthpiece Fresh News yesterday published another unverified post from anti-CNRP leaker “Seiha” claiming that certain opposition lawmakers, and even Kem Sokha’s daughters, were part of a larger network planning to bring down the government, adding that they were on a court “blacklist” likely to be questioned.
The post comes after Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha was arrested in a midnight raid on Sunday and charged yesterday with “treason” for saying he had received US assistance planning his political trajectory in a speech to supporters in Australia.
Yesterday’s allegations from Seiha, who has published multiple damaging leaks aimed at the CNRP, names opposition Deputy President Pol Ham; Sokha’s daughters, Kem Monovithya and Kem Samathida; and lawmakers Ou Chanrith, Yem Ponhearith and Son Chhay as potentially in the firing line for purportedly being part of Sokha’s larger conspiracy.
“Kem Sokha’s case is huge and long. There may be other people close to Kem Sokha, who Kem Sokha trusts and will let them implement the plan like a network, but [they] are in the blacklist of the court and will be brought for questioning eventually,” the post on Seiha’s Facebook page reads.
The tone of the post echoes that of a series of unsubstantiated and seemingly fantastical conspiracy theories – also posted to Facebook and parroted by Fresh News – linking Sokha, his daughters, journalists, NGOs, the CIA and the ruling party of Taiwan to a purported anti-government plot.
In the posts, Seiha claims that the information came from a lawyer close to CNRP Deputy President Eng Chhay Eang, who then “whispered” this to another person, and that the theory was also backed up by an anonymous legal expert at an unspecified court, who said all the above were linked together like “shrimp soup”.
Despite the lack of named sources or evidence supporting the ominous claims, recent denunciatory stories and letters run by Fresh News have been eerily prescient. Similar claims appearing on the government mouthpiece preceded not only Sokha’s arrest, but the expulsion last month of NGO National Democratic Institute.
Ham yesterday said he wasn’t worried about the prospect of arrest, and declined to comment further.
Monovithya – who is the party’s deputy director-general of public affairs, and who was labelled a “CIA agent” in the post – said the leaked list renders almost every senior CNRP member’s fate uncertain, putting the party under “tremendous pressure”. “They will continue to use the court to aggressively attack CNRP leadership until we run out of people to lead the party,” she said.
Sokha’s other daughter, Samathida, said the likelihood of more CNRP arrests was high, but the same circumstances could well be extended to anyone in the country, resulting in democracy being “murdered”.
“It could be a CNRP lawmaker. It could be me. Or it could be you,” she said.
Other opposition members named in the post could not be reached.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak would only say that the investigation or arrest of anyone involved in the Sokha “plot” would be decided by the court, but that if they were linked they should be arrested.
Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski and Meas Sokchea.