Activist Files Defamation Complaint Over Salacious Audio Clips

Popular anti-government activist Thy Sovantha on Wednesday filed a defamation complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over the release of a series of audio clips purporting to be recordings of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha speaking with his mistress, including one in which Ms. Sovantha is discussed.

The audio clips were posted to the Facebook page purportedly belonging to the alleged mistress, “Mon Srey,” on Monday before being widely disseminated by a number of government-aligned media outlets. In one of them, a man and woman can be heard talking about Ms. Sovantha.

“Were you involved in a love affair with Thy Sovantha?” the woman asks. “Because some people have accused you of having a love affair and buying her a luxury car.”

“I never bought the car for her because she argued with my daughter and she had a conflict with the CNRP,” the man responds, alluding to Ms. Sovantha’s public feud with Kem Monovithya, the CNRP vice president’s daughter.

“She used the CNRP to do politics and make money overseas,” the man says of Ms. Sovantha. “I wish to swear 100 percent that I am not involved with Thy Sovantha. And if I am involved, I will be destroyed.”

Ms. Sovantha said on Wednesday that she had filed a defamation complaint with the municipal court to “prove her purity,” denying that she had ever had anything other than a working relationship with Mr. Sokha.

“I think that this is a defamation case because the two people were talking about my scandals in a secret place, and they posted it publicly in the media,” she said.

According to the criminal code, defamation only applies to statements made in “any audio-visual communication intended for the public.”

Ms. Sovantha said she believed that the people heard in the recordings had colluded with the parties responsible for their promulgation.

“We want the court to find the owners of the voices because we think that the people who posted the clips and the owners of the voies are from the same group,” she said, adding that she was not sure whether the man in the recording was Mr. Sokha.

Ms. Sovantha’s lawyer, Sang Vannak, said he delivered the complaint to the municipal court on Wednesday morning.

“My client did not accuse anyone, but she wants the court to find the ones whose voices are in the clips,” he said.

Theng Ramy, a clerk at the court, said in the afternoon that he had not yet acted on the complaint but would do so.

“I have received the complaint, but I have not yet passed the complaint to any prosecutors,” he said.

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