Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM claims RFA journo worried US will kill him

PM claims RFA journo worried US will kill him

RFA journalist Chun Chanboth (blue cap) waits to enter Prey Sar prison last year. Hun Sen on Friday claimed that the journalist was a spy for him, and that Chanboth feared he would be killed by the United States if he quit the radio broadcaster.
RFA journalist Chun Chanboth (blue cap) waits to enter Prey Sar prison last year. Hun Sen on Friday claimed that the journalist was a spy for him, and that Chanboth feared he would be killed by the United States if he quit the radio broadcaster. Pha Lina

PM claims RFA journo worried US will kill him

Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed on Friday that Radio Free Asia presenter Chun Chanboth had expressed concern the United States would kill him if he left the State Department-funded broadcaster, a claim quickly dismissed as “silly” by US Ambassador William Heidt.

The premier was in Australia attending an Asean summit, when he made the purported revelations during a meeting with Cambodian-Australians.

Hun Sen claimed Chanboth was a spy for him and that the radio presenter had approached his son, Hun Manet, and military Lieutenant General Mao Sophan for protection from the US, whom he allegedly claimed would kill him if he left RFA. At the same meeting, the premier claimed the United States was responsible for the killing of political commentator Kem Ley – a case many have classified as politically motivated murder.

“Are you insulting me strongly to please America, but you say you need help to protect you in case America kills you like Kem Ley? I helped hide it for you, but now I won’t hide it for you,” the premier said on Friday, referring Chanboth.

Chanboth was forced to flee Cambodia last year after the government issued a warrant for his arrest accusing him of misrepresenting himself in order to gain access to political prisoners at Prey Sar prison. He is now in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Heidt, speaking at an event in Kampong Thom, said US-based journalists enjoyed the freedom to report on stories, and dismissed the idea Chanboth was at threat.

“So this idea that Chun Chanboth is afraid of being in America is frankly, it is just silly. It’s just silly,” he said.

The story was picked up by government mouthpiece Fresh News, which seems to have added the Central Intelligence Agency as the one threatening Chanboth.

Fresh News also appended the screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation, which it claimed was between Chanboth and Manet, with the former attempting to seek a meeting with the premier in Australia last week. It followed with an interview with the RCAF’s Sophan who claimed Chanboth had requested security during a visit to the Kingdom last March, with the lieutenant general providing three bodyguards.

While Chanboth did not respond to a request for comment, he spoke during one of the protests against Hun Sen in Australia, inviting the premier to reveal any secret information Chanboth had purportedly relayed to the prime minister.

“I am also anxious to know why and what documents and information I sent to PM Hun Sen,” he said, referring to the spy allegations.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved