Jailed political commentator Kim Sok has retained an attorney with a history of representing opposition politicians—almost always in losing cases—and plans to request release on bail today, the lawyer said.
The attorney, Choung Choungy, said he agreed to represent Mr. Sok last week after the commentator was hit with two separate lawsuits filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen demanding more than $500,000 in damages.
The commentator was jailed on defamation and incitement charges on Friday for seeming to link the ruling party with the murder of political analyst Kem Ley in radio interviews.
“Kim Sok’s health is good and his spirit is strong,” Mr. Choungy said on Monday after visiting his client in Prey Sar prison.
Mr. Choungy said he planned to file a request for bail as well as an appeal against the court’s arrest procedures today.
“We have a plan to appeal tomorrow if I can prepare the documents on time,” he said.
Though Mr. Sok had initially asked for the court to delay his questioning, partly because he could not find a pro bono attorney, Mr. Choungy said he had already agreed to represent the commentator but had been busy with other obligations in the provinces on Friday.
“He asked me to defend him, so I agreed to defend him free of charge,” he said.
Mr. Sok was questioned without a lawyer for about five hours on Friday, first by a prosecutor and then an investigating judge before the court announced that he had been charged and sent to prison.
Mr. Choungy has represented CNRP lawmakers against the government in past cases involving beaten parliamentarians, Vietnamese border claims and insurrection charges.
Activist monk But Buntenh, who has rallied behind Mr. Sok’s cause, said Mr. Choungy had initially said his caseload was too full to take on Mr. Sok, but eventually changed his mind.
“I think that he asked Choung Choungy to defend him because he might have believed that [Mr. Choungy] was involved with political issues and Choung Choungy has defended many politicians in the past,” the monk said.
Mr. Sok was active in royalist parties through 2008, when he began a five-year stint as a contractor at the Information Ministry before getting a business degree in China. Fellow commentators say that Mr. Sok only became active as a stridently anti-government pundit over the last several months.
But Buntenh said the murder of Kem Ley in July ignited the commentator.
“Kim Sok changed his stance 90 degrees after Dr. Kem Ley was shot dead, and there were many people who supported his comments,” he said.