Opposition Senator Arrested in Phnom Penh

Police arrested opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning, two days after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of treason for posting a fake border treaty to his Facebook page.

Eng Sorphea, chief of the municipal police’s serious crimes bureau, confirmed the arrest and said police were now questioning the senator. 

Opposition senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted into a police SUV outside a private residence in Phnom Penh's Sen Sok district, in a photograph posted the Facebook page of opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
Opposition senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted into a police SUV outside a private residence in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, in a photograph posted to the Facebook page of opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“We arrested Hong Sok Hour at 6 a.m. in Phnom Penh Thmei commune at someone’s residence,” he said.

“We are questioning him now,” he added. “We are in the process of investigating.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted photographs to his own Facebook page at 7 a.m. that show Mr. Sok Hour, dressed in a suit and tie, being apprehended by heavily armed police.

In his speech on Thursday, Mr. Hun Sen accused the opposition senator of treason for posting a fake treaty that purported to show Heng Samrin, as Cambodia’s head of state in 1979, pledging to dissolve the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

“There is a post on Facebook concerning a fake treaty, which cannot be pardoned and needs action taken,” the prime minister said.

Mr. Hun Sen said that Mr. Sok Hour’s immunity as a senator could easily be removed by the CPP’s majority in the Senate, and that the senator had been caught committing a “red-handed crime.”

“Pochentong [Phnom Penh International Airport] and all the other checkpoints have been blocked. So arrest this person, and do not let him run into a foreign embassy,” he said.

On Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that Mr. Sok Hour, a French citizen, was at the French Embassy in the hours after the prime minister’s speech, but that he had left by noon on Thursday.

Acting CNRP spokesman Ou Chanrith said on Friday that Mr. Sok Hour had gone into hiding as the opposition attempted to negotiate with the government to prevent his arrest.

On Saturday, Mr. Chanrith said police had surrounded a house in Sen Sok district where Mr. Sok Hour was hiding overnight before making the arrest at 6:05 a.m.

“It violates the law because he is a senator and has Senate immunity, and generally if [the crime] is not red-handed, they need to remove his immunity first before arresting or detaining him,” Mr. Chanrith said.

Mr. Sok Hour, a senator for the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP)—a legacy opposition party that exists for legal reasons—has played a central role in the CNRP’s recent campaign to uncover Vietnamese encroachments into Cambodia.

Mr. Chanrith said Mr. Sok Hour’s arrest was yet another warning from the government to the opposition and its supporters.

“It is to threaten and intimidate people who stand up to speak the truth about society,” he said.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.