The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday convicted a member of the Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF)—a group that advocates for the removal of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling CPP—on charges of plotting and forgery that he denies.
“The court has decided to sentence Hin Chan, 32, a Cambodian, to seven years in prison on the charge of joining a plot…and the charge of forging public documents,” Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said in court.
At Mr. Chan’s trial last month, the prosecution accused him of having forged a passport last year and disseminating the KNLF’s message over the Internet from 2012 until his arrest in May 2014.
Leaving the courthouse, Mr. Chan said he planned to appeal.
“I don’t accept this; it is unfair and I will appeal,” he said. “I have done nothing wrong.”
His lawyer, Sam Sok Kong, said Mr. Chan was a blogger for the KNLF and that his only aim was to learn about human rights.
“He joined as a student because he wanted to know about democracy and human rights from the KNLF. He did not know it was a movement against the government,” he said.
After his trial last month, Mr. Sok Kong claimed that his client had only forged a passport in order to find work in Thailand.
Following Thursday’s sentencing, Mr. Chan’s mother, Kech Em, said her son was only recruited by the KNLF because of his computer prowess.
“This is unfair to my son because he was not a leader” of the group, she said. “They just asked him to do some work because he has a lot of computer skills.”
The KNLF has announced its intentions to form a government-in-exile to challenge Mr. Hun Sen’s decades-long rule, but denies the government’s claims that it has been training a private army across the border in Thailand.
Mr. Chan has said that neither he nor the KNLF had any intentions of staging an armed overthrow of the government.