Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday distributed a trove of purportedly leaked text messages sent and received by, among others, members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family, tycoons and cabinet ministers, with some of the messages – if true – appearing to show questionable dealings between political and business elites.
The text messages, which were forwarded to The Post by Rainsy yesterday, contain 20 logs of conversations accessed from September to February. Those named include all of the members of the Hun family – first lady Bun Rany and all five Hun children – save Hun Sen himself, as well as three sons of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
Also included in the leaks are Minister of Transportation Sun Chanthol and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, not to mention Rainsy himself.
While the full content of the logs could not be fully verified, The Post was able to independently confirm the authenticity of several messages contained in the lists, including two from a Post reporter to Sok An’s son, Sok Puthyvuth, which appeared verbatim in the logs.
The purported messages seem to be contained in computer-generated logs containing the sender’s and receiver’s phone numbers, and in some cases their names, a date and time, and the contents of these texts.
Since the most damning material could not be adequately verified yesterday, The Post has refrained from reproducing the content of the messages in detail.
However, along with mundane personal chitchat, the logs also include conversations between a television news pundit and a member of Hun Sen’s family discussing electoral strategies and a businessman asking a casino operator for cash to keep his company afloat.
But despite distributing the logs, Rainsy yesterday said in an email that he would not “take part – in one way or another – in this despicable game for very cheap people”.
Indeed the opposition has found itself the target of a months-long campaign of purported leaked personal phone conversations intended to damage the reputations of many of its top leaders. The barrage started last year with a cache of recordings purporting to show acting opposition president Kem Sokha speaking to a mistress.
The leaks ultimately saw Sokha effectively go into self-imposed house arrest to avoid a conviction – widely considered politically motivated, and ultimately pardoned stemming from the recordings.
The anti-opposition leaks have drawn criticism for what observers have characterised as a dirty-tricks smear campaign, one that has also raised questions of illegal wiretapping.
But having received the leaks from an anonymous Gmail address, Rainsy yesterday said he simply found the leaks in his inbox, and that he did not “know the sender” and didn’t care.
Rainsy declined to confirm the authenticity of text messages in French linked to his phone number or to discuss whether it was inappropriate for him to be distributing such leaks after his own former party had been so battered by illegally obtained materials.
Asked why he chose to forward unverified leaks via email to multiple recipients, Rainsy said, “I wanted to get rid of them and let other people do whatever they want with this kind of stuff.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann, who was also forwarded the leaks by Rainsy, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, government and ruling officials seemed unaware of the leaks yesterday. Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat refused to comment on the issue saying it was beyond his “duty” and “capability”.
The Interior Ministry’s Khieu Sopheak said he would have to look into the case , and Cambodian People Party spokesman Sok Eysan said if there were any affected individuals from the leaks they should approach the court and authorities to initiate an investigation.