Release Kem Ley Footage, Sued Commentator Tells Government

Undeterred by the $500,000 lawsuit filed against him by Prime Minister Hun Sen, political commentator Kim Sok returned to the radio waves on Tuesday to say that the government could settle the case against him by releasing video footage of Kem Ley’s murder.

“I am brave enough to be responsible for it,” Mr. Sok said of his commentary. “But the government must be brave too, because…this case is linked to the event of the murder.”

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Kim Sok is interviewed by Radio Free Asia at their studio in Phnom Penh, in a still from a video posted to the broadcaster’s Facebook page.

Mr. Sok was hit with the complaint on Monday for allegedly accusing the ruling party of killing Kem Ley, a political analyst who was gunned down in July, during a Saturday interview on Radio Free Asia (RFA). Prosecutors at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court have fast-tracked the case, summoning Mr. Sok for questioning on Friday and barring him from leaving the country.

The commentator returned to RFA’s studio on Tuesday to clarify that he blamed a government-affiliated “network” for assassinating Kem Ley, and called on the government to release crime scene footage of the murder if it wanted to prove its innocence.

“To find out who is right or wrong, just release the video clip,” he said.

In the Saturday RFA interview that prompted the lawsuit, Mr. Sok said the CPP had “tricked” the opposition and later said that “they” had killed Kem Ley.

Speaking by telephone on Tuesday, he said it was a mistake to assume that he was suggesting the CPP’s culpability in the crime.

“The word ‘they’ was referring to a network under the management of today’s government that let a network kill human beings, and then couldn’t find the murderers—not just the murder of Kem Ley but other advocates such as Chea Vichea, venerable Sam Bunthoeun as well as Chhut Wutty,” he said, naming a unionist, monk and environmentalist, respectively, whose killings resembled Kem Ley’s.

“So it’s not targeting one person in particular,” he said of his accusation.

Sieng Sok, a deputy prosecutor at the municipal court, issued a warrant dated Monday ordering Mr. Sok to appear for questioning on Friday and temporarily barring him from leaving the country.

Mr. Sok, a former university lecturer with a graduate degree in finance from China, said on Tuesday that police had mistakenly posted the warrant at the house of his ex-wife’s mother, but said he had no plans to flee anyway.

He said he would try to find a pro bono lawyer, and if he could not find one, ask the judge to delay his questioning.

“It’s a political case that Hun Sen has rushed in order to close my mouth before the election,” he said.

Mr. Sok said he believed authorities were closely monitoring him. He said that Daun Penh district police had detained his friend Sean Chen, a land broker, and Mr. Chen’s friend as they drove Mr. Sok from Voice of America’s studios to his apartment on Monday night.

Local authorities either declined to comment or said they hadn’t heard about the incident.

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