A 25-year-old opposition activist is seeking asylum abroad after fleeing Cambodia to escape a court summons for incitement, he said on Monday.
Oun Vansak, who managed the Facebook page I Love Cambodia Hot News II, said he left the country on Thursday ahead of a court date on Friday, and accused authorities of cracking down on freedom of expression.
“I posted a lot of things to criticize the government [on topics] such as border issues, Yuon illegal immigration [and the] killing of Dr. Kem Ley,” he said in a Facebook message, using a word for Vietnamese often considered derogatory and referring to a political analyst murdered in broad daylight in July last year.
“I escaped because of concerns for my security and safety while politics is heating,” he added. “I have no faith in the court system that the government has used to oppress me after I just expressed my opinion.”
According to a court document seen by reporters on Monday, Mr. Vansak was summoned to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court “for questioning for the charge of incitement to discriminate, which was committed during August 2013 to 2016.”
The charge refers to inciting others to commit malicious or violent acts based on ethnicity, nationality, race or religion, and carries a sentence of one to three years in prison and a 2 million to 6 million riel fine, or about $500 to $1,500.
“Now I am in a safe place,” Mr. Vansak said. “I am seeking asylum rights in a third country.”
“I will come back [to] Cambodia when the CNRP wins the 2018 elections,” he added.
Mr. Vansak fled the day before the arrest of government critic Kim Sok on Friday over two defamation and incitement cases, one of which was for suggesting that the CPP was behind the murder of Kem Ley.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan on Monday said that Mr. Vansak had fled because he knew he would be found guilty.
“He has accused the government with regards to border issues and fake maps, as well as his accusation that Vietnam has demarcated border posts into Cambodian land,” he said.