At Failed Appeal, Kim Sok Claims PM’s Allies Sought Apology

In a closed hearing on Monday, the Court of Appeal rejected arguments that political commentator Kim Sok, who was charged last month with defamation and incitement, has been improperly detained at Prey Sar Prison.

Mr. Sok came to sudden fame earlier this year after a February 12 interview with Radio Free Asia in which he seemed to link the ruling party with last year’s murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

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Jailed political commentator Kim Sok speaks to reporters as he is escorted through the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

After the interview, Mr. Sok was sued for more than $500,000 by Prime Minister Hun Sen and promptly arrested. Mr. Hun Sen later sued him again, this time for $2,500.

Lawyers for Mr. Sok and Mr. Hun Sen said that Presiding Judge Khun Leang Meng had rejected Mr. Sok’s appeal on Monday out of concern that he would commit another crime.

“They’re worried Mr. Kim Sok could make chaos,” Mr. Sok’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, said after the ruling. But “if he’s going to make chaos, then society would already be in chaos from his interview with Radio Free Asia.”

While being escorted away from the hearing, Mr. Sok told reporters that he had been approached in prison by men working for Mr. Hun Sen. They had tried to “convince him and threaten him” into penning the premier an apology, he said.

“I can be released on bail if I write an apology letter to Samdech prime minister,” he said.

But Mr. Sok, who had refused to tone down his rhetoric even amid mounting pressure, said he would not agree to the deal.

“I’d like to request that the prime minister stop sending people to convince me and threaten me, and also don’t put me in a dark prison,” he said.

Ky Tech, the lawyer representing Mr. Hun Sen, said no such visits had occurred.

“He is in prison, so how can people go coax him? If he wants to write an apology letter, it’s his right,” he said.

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