‘Coup’ Plotter’s Sister Claims Authorities Threatened Family

Relatives of a Cambodian expatriate under investigation for warning of a coup d’etat against Prime Minister Hun Sen have been visited daily by police in Preah Vihear province and fear for their safety, the man’s sister said on Tuesday.

On July 17, Som Sovannara, a 35-year-old former soldier living in Canada, uploaded a video to YouTube telling government ministries and the military to be ready “to liberate the nation from Hun Sen’s dictatorial regime” but days later said he only meant to encourage a peaceful uprising. The defense and interior ministries, along with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, are nonetheless probing the threat.

Som Sovannara, in a screenshot from a video posted to YouTube
Som Sovannara, in a screenshot from a video posted to YouTube

On Tuesday, his sister Som Somontha, 47, said police and other “agents” had been following and spying on her family in the province’s Sangkum Thmei district since the investigation began.

Last week, Ms. Somontha said, “some authorities asked me, ‘Do you know your brother posted something on Facebook opposing the government?’ But I answered that I don’t know about this issue,” she said.

“They threatened me, telling me not to say anything that affects the government and to please be careful,” she added. “Now I am worried about my and my family’s safety, because agents have been coming to monitor us every day since this happened.”

“My family are scared that they will hurt us.”

District governor Ros Heng said Ms. Somontha should identify those who threatened her.

“I want the name of the officials who went there. Who went there? If she said authorities went down there, she should know who it was who threatened her family,” he said.

Local police officials either said they knew nothing about the case or declined to comment.

Mr. Sovannara, a member of the Khmer National Liberation Front, said from Canada that he was worried about his family but would not return to Cambodia.

“I would be happy to go to court if our courts were independent, but I think our country’s courts are unjust,” he said.


Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr. Sovannara is 25 years old.

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