The US is continuing its investigation of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters and the organization’s self-professed leader, Chhun Yasith, almost one year after a failed coup in Phnom Penh, a US official said.
Although limited in what he could say about the investigation because it is a law enforcement matter, Alex Arvizu, the US Embassy’s deputy chief, said that since the Nov 24 attack the US and Cambodian governments have had an “extensive” and “healthy” exchange of information regarding the CFF.
“If there has been a violation of US law, I’m fairly confident that we will deal with it,” said Arvizu, who spoke to Cambodian journalists Wednesday.
“The US views this very seriously. We’re clearly not happy about it, and we’re looking into it,” he said.
But the US government still has not gathered enough evidence to charge Chhun Yasith with a crime, Arvizu said.
Chhun Yasith, who was tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for his alleged role in the attack that left at least four dead, still resides in Long Beach, in the US state of California.
“The CFF is an anti-communist group based in the US that has legalized itself…with the Secretary of State of California,” Chhun Yasith wrote in an e-mail.
“The CFF only lobbied and educated those [individuals accused and tried for CFF activities] to fight for their own freedom.”
Chhun Yasith wrote that he recently went to the office of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in Long Beach to provide testimony regarding his CFF activities.
The FBI, he wrote, said that “I did not have to join a grand jury to testify” about his activity, but he said he would cooperate with the US government.
“I am waiting to testify [or do] anything the US government demands me to do,” he wrote.
(Additional reporting by David Kihara)