Alleged Chats Between Thy Sovantha and Hun Manith Leaked

What appear to be leaked conversations between social media maven—and erstwhile opposition activist—Thy Sovantha and one of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sons show the pair discussing plans for a protest against opposition leader Kem Sokha.

The anonymous leak—posted online Sunday in a 22-minute YouTube video—is an ironic reversal of fortune for anti-opposition groups, who have had a field day with audio clips leaked in March of alleged phone conversations between deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha and an alleged mistress.

Hun Manith, left, (Reuters) and Thy Sovantha (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Hun Manith, left, (Reuters) and Thy Sovantha (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The newly leaked Facebook chats, evidently between Ms. Sovantha and the prime minister’s second son, Hun Manith, a major general in the army and director of the Defense Ministry’s military intelligence unit, go back to October last year.

A CPP spokesman said the conversations were real and blamed the leak on someone hacking a smartphone after Maj. Gen. Manith sold it.

Ms. Sovantha had been a staunch CNRP booster with a massive social media following, but became dogged by accusations of being a spy for Mr. Hun Sen’s ruling CPP in 2014 and finally broke with the opposition in March, once the alleged audio of Mr. Sokha and his mistress hit the internet. She quickly switched sides and began attacking the CNRP, focusing her ire on Mr. Sokha’s alleged marital infidelity.

The YouTube video scrolls through exchanges Ms. Sovantha, who is in her early 20s, apparently had with Maj. Gen. Manith, 39, in an easy rapport of English, Khmer and emojis that include texts, photos and audio recordings.

In an exchange on March 27 about her plans for a march to put pressure on Mr. Sokha to admit the affair—which he has not done to this day—Ms. Sovantha asks for help from Maj. Gen. Manith’s youth group.

“Bong Nith, on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. we will march to the U.N., the National Rescue Party [CNRP headquarters], then to Kem Sokha’s house,” she wrote. “I ask for 50 youth to march and drive their motorbikes.”

“I can’t let them join; don’t want it to leak,” Maj. Gen. Manith replied. “Don’t hide your force, Tha. Bring all of Tha’s youth to work and show how willing they are. My force is kept only for necessities.”

Two days later, on March 29, Ms. Sovantha sent a photo of the marchers outside the National Assembly and Mr. Manith, replied: “Haha…congratulations!”

The same day, Ms. Sovantha asked: “Now thinking of another way to incite them. Bong Nith, do you have any ideas?” The general replied with a laughing emoji.

Ms. Sovantha could not be reached by telephone. Neither she nor Mr. Manith replied to requests for comment via Facebook.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Monday that the man’s voice in the audio portions did sound like Maj. Gen. Manith, and said the leak likely came from an old phone.

“I think it’s his voice. His phone was sold a long time ago, then someone downloaded it and leaked it,” he said of the conversation with Ms. Sovantha. “It is just a normal conversation. Why do we need to care about it?”

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