Police Arrest, Free Woman In Latest Facebook Case

A woman was arrested by police from the Interior Ministry’s internal security department on Monday for allegedly posting an image to Facebook that claimed Prime Minister Hun Sen died after being cursed in 2014.

Police said she was released hours later, however, after they determined her account had been hacked.

Det Mengkheang, 30, was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district at around 8:30 a.m., said Meng Hengtith, chief of the municipal police’s internal security department.

“She was sent for questioning at the Ministry of Interior’s internal security department,” Mr. Hengtith said, explaining that police identified Ms. Mengkheang as the owner of the “Kim Bopha” Facebook account that had posted the fake death notification.

According to a screenshot distributed online, the January 17 post was titled “Death Notice” and read: “The corpse of Hun Sen died at a hospital in Singapore by being cursed by the Khmer people in 2014.” Below the words is an image of Mr. Hun Sen lying in what appears to be a casket.

Saran Komsath, a spokesman for the National Police, said Ms. Mengkheang was released at about 4 p.m. after a day of questioning in which she convinced investigators she was not in fact the one who made the post.

“She was allowed to return home already,” Lieutenant General Komsath said in a WhatsApp message in the evening. “Her name [on Facebook] was hacked by somebody and used.”

Asked how police established that the account had been hacked, Lt. Gen. Komsath said they simply accepted the woman’s defense and would now begin the search for those who had done the hacking.

“This is according to her answers. The authorities will continue to search for the real culprits,” the spokesman said. “When we have not found any new evidence, we have to listen to her answers.”

Earlier in the day, Lt. Gen. Komsath explained by telephone that Ms. Mengkheang had crossed the line of acceptable discourse on social media.

“This was not constructive criticism,” he explained. “It was an insult to the head of the government that was voted in by the people.”

Ms. Mengkheang was the latest target of a campaign announced on December 28 by Mr. Hun Sen against his tormentors on the social media network, on which his page surpassed the 2 million “likes” mark last night.

“If I want to take action against you, we will get [you] within seven hours,” Mr. Hun Sen warned Facebook users who insult him or his family online.

Since then, he has stuck to his word, with police earlier this month arresting a farmer from a staunchly CPP family in Kompong Thom province for allegedly insulting and sending him a death threat on Facebook.

On Friday, the prime minister’s eldest son, Hun Manet, who heads the Defense Ministry’s counterterrorism department, also announced that he was suing Chham Chhany, who used Facebook to accuse him and his mother of having links to the illicit luxury timber trade.

In another case, the Interior Ministry last week asked Interpol to help arrest a “Cambodian living abroad” whom the government believes Photoshopped an image of Mr. Hun Sen’s wife, Bun Rany, standing up right to make it seem as if her legs were spread apart.

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