Rights Group Worker Arrested For Spreading ‘Disinformation’

An employee of local rights group Licadho was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district early Saturday morning for allegedly disseminating “disinformation,” Licadho and district police confirm­ed yesterday.

Licadho Director Naly Pilorge said police arrested Sokchouen Leang, an administrative officer for the group, at approximately 6:15 am and that the Takeo Provincial Court later charged him with spreading disinformation. Ms Pi­lorge said she knew neither the reason for his arrest nor the grounds for the court’s subsequent charge.

Say Thy, Licadho’s chief administrator, said Mr Leang managed a quick phone call to his co-workers before being arrested and having his phone and motorbike confiscated. He said Mr Leang had been an employee of Licadho for the past three years.

Sen Sok district police chief Mok Hong Sen confirmed the arrest of a Licadho employee but said he knew neither the person’s name nor the reason for his arrest. He said the Ministry of Interior’s internal security department carried out the arrest.

Internal Security Department Director Chhay Sinarith could not be reached for comment. Takeo Provincial Court Deputy Director Cheng Bunly referred questions to the court’s Director Plang Chhlam, who also could not be reached.

Ms Pilorge, the Licadho director, said authorities have violated Mr Leang’s rights by holding him in custody for at least a day without allowing him access to his family or his lawyers. She said Mr Leang was only allowed a 25-minute meeting with his lawyers Sunday before being sent to pretrial detention at Takeo provincial prison.

“We believe the arrest, charges and detention of our colleague [are] completely baseless and appeal to all authorities that our colleague is treated fairly and not subject to any mistreatments,” she said.

            (Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)

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