Published: Mon, September 04, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Cambodian opposition leader arrested for alleged conspiracy

Cambodian opposition leader arrested for alleged conspiracy

"This requires arrest", said Prime Minister Hun Sen. "After 24 years and 15 days, the Cambodian government has destroyed The Cambodia Daily, a special and singular part of Cambodia's free press".

Eighteen radio stations were also ordered off the air last month and local radio stations have been stopped from leasing time to the United States-funded Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.

The government contends The Daily owes a tax bill of $6.3 million dating back a decade.

In a statement released by the Cambodian government, officials accused Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, of conspiring with foreign powers to undermine the current government.

In a statement, the Cambodian government alleged "a secret plan of conspiracy between Kem Sokha, his group, and foreigners that harms Cambodia", according to AFP.

Mr Kem Sokha's daughter Monovithya Kem said her father was taken away handcuffed after a raid by between 100 and 200 policemen without an arrest warrant.

His party denied the allegations and said the charges were politically motivated.

Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Khieu Sopheak said Kem Sokha was being held at the Tropeang Phlong prison facility in Tbuong Khmum province, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Phnom Penh. Sam Rainsy remains overseas in self-imposed exile.

He urged other nations to put pressure on Mr. Hun Sen.

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The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologized and changed department policies following the July 26 incident. Despite the warning, Payne is heard saying, "We are done, we are done, you are under arrest".

"This is the political strategy for democratic countries, that's what they do".

The country's tax department announced in early August that the Cambodia Daily, an independent English-language newspaper, owes some $6 million in unpaid tax from 2007 to 2016, and ordered the publisher to pay in full by September 4.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is seen by many to be doing everything to cling on to power ahead of national elections slated for 2018.

Human rights activists say the latest arrest is part of an ongoing effort by Hun Sen to crack down on political dissent in the run up to next year's election.

The arrest of Kem Sokha comes after the government cracked down on NGOs and critical media.

Sunday also marked the last day of publication for the Cambodia Daily after the newspaper was targeted by the government for allegedly not paying tax.

The Daily says it has been operating at a loss since 2008 and that the government's figure is wildly inflated. The government also ordered the expulsion of the National Democratic Institute, a pro-democracy, nonprofit organization tied to the Democratic Party of the United States.

Last week, the U.S. expressed "deep concern" over the state of Cambodia's democracy after the government there ordered out an American NGO. In recent years, he has become one of China's closest regional allies, and made increasingly strident verbal attacks on the European Union, the United Nations, and the USA, as well as any worldwide organizations that criticized him for violations of human or political rights.

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