Police in Cambodia
have arrested opposition leader Kem Sokha, charging him with collaboration with foreign enemies to overthrow the government.
Sokha was arrested during a pre-dawn raid on his Phnom Penh home on Sunday for allegedly secretly planning against the government with the backing of the United States.
The government said in a statement that it had a video clip and other evidence pointing to a secret plan with foreigners to harm the Kingdom of Cambodia, which it said amounted to treason.
“It’s an act of treason with conspiracy with a foreign country, betraying his own nation. This requires arrest,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak the next step would a trial.
The charges against Sokha carry a prison sentence of 15 to 30 years.
Sokha reportedly says in the purported video that “he was trained and received funding from a powerful foreign country to topple the government.”
His party denied the allegations and said the charges were politically motivated. The opposition party also said that the arrest violated the law because his position as an elected lawmaker gave him immunity from prosecution.
The party called for Kem Sokha’s immediate release and urged the international community to “intervene for the release of Kem Sokha.”
Mu Sochua, a vice-president of the opposition party, insisted that the charges had been fabricated.
The arrest “sends a very clear signal that democracy in Cambodia is under severe threat,” she said.
Last month, the government stopped broadcasts by some radio stations and ordered an independent newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, to pay $6 million in tax, or face closure.