Threat Against PM, Family Leads to Arrest of Gov’t Official

An Interior Ministry official was arrested on Tuesday morning for allegedly posting a death threat against Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family on the premier’s Facebook page, an official said.

Leang La, 45, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s accounting and logistics office, was arrested in Phnom Penh, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.

A report on the National Police website says “Mr. La confessed that he used a Facebook account by the name Leala Leang to make comments to curse Samdech Hun Sen.”

The threat had been made “because La isn’t happy with the current government’s leadership,” it adds. A screenshot circulated online early on Tuesday shows what appears to be Leala Leang’s comment posted under a live video on Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook page.

“Hun Sen is about to die, a warning to all the Hun family to flee before 2018,” the comment says. “Your fate to die or go to jail is unavoidable.”

The screenshot was shared on Facebook by Pheng Vannak, who lists his occupation as police officer at the Interior Ministry. Mr. Vannak has been known as a prominent pro-CPP Facebook personality who was disciplined in 2015 over a death threat made against current CNRP President Kem Sokha.

Mr. Chantharith said Mr. La was being held for questioning at the Interior Ministry headquarters on Tuesday evening. He added that authorities would “take measures” to discipline Mr. La by law or ministry procedure once the case became clearer.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.

In February, a 27-year-old migrant worker was sentenced to two years in prison for Facebook posts that prosecutors said justified criminal charges—including one that said: “Hun Sen oy, today is the day of your death.”

The year before, another Facebook user was sentenced to six months in prison for writing that he would “shoot the head” of prominent academic Sok Touch, who had been tasked by the government with evaluating border markers between Vietnam and Cambodia.

The cases come after the 2014 launch of a government “Cyber War Team” to collect information from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and “protect government stance and prestige,” said a document signed by the late Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and published in the Royal Gazette at the time.

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