Material apparently aimed at incriminating jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha continued to flow in over the weekend, with pro-government leaker “Seiha” releasing another video of Sokha expressing his gratitude to the US government for its assistance in building democracy in Cambodia.
The video – seemingly shot in the US in the presence of House Representative Edward Royce, a staunch critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen – shows only brief comments from the now-jailed Cambodia National Rescue Party president thanking the US government representative for working towards smooth elections in Cambodia.
“I was supported by [the] US government, with financial [support] to promote democracy for five years. And today, the result of US citizens’ support has helped Cambodian people to stand up,” he said.
The statements, while brief, follow a similar 2013 video where Sokha said he had received US assistance to plan his political trajectory – comments used to charge him with “treason” and send him to pre-trial detention in Tbong Khmum’s Correctional Centre 3.
The resurrection of the 2013 video came after unsubstantiated conspiracy theories – promulgated by government mouthpiece Fresh News – detailed a purported plot between the CNRP, the CIA, the Taiwanese ruling party, NGOs and freelance journalists to topple the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
In the latest video, Royce is seen handing Sokha a plaque for his advocacy work following a chant from the audience to replace Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Meanwhile, anonymous Facebook page “Chaksmok Chao”, whose posts have been featured in Fresh News’ attacks on international NGOs for allegedly colluding with the United States, also posted what appeared to be an identity card for Sokha from Washington state in the US, along with pictures of protests being held overseas over the CNRP leader’s arrest.
Kem Monovithya, the CNRP’s deputy director for public affairs and Sokha’s daughter, said references from Sokha to receiving US assistance were about funding the Cambodian Center for Human Rights received from the State Department’s USAID – all of which is public, she added.
“Many NGOs here and around the world receive funding from foreign governments. And it’s public info,” she said in a message. Asked about the ID card, Monovithya said it was irrelevant because Sokha was only a Cambodian citizen.
“But I don’t understand why that’s a relevant question. What I can tell you is that fact that he is not a citizen of any country other than Cambodia,” she said yesterday.
However, the video clip seems to have caught the attention of the authorities, with Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak saying it would be used in court by authorities in the Sokha case.
“The court will use it [the video] as evidence to incriminate him. His charge carries [a sentence of] 15 to 30 years,” Sopheak said.