Reuters Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s opposition leader admitted in a 2013 video clip played in court yesterday to receiving funding and advice from unspecified Americans but denied trying to overthrow the government of strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and his party banned in a crackdown by Hun Sen on opposition, civil society groups and the media in the run-up to the 2018 parliamentary election, in which the ruling party won every seat.
Sokha, 66, is on trial on charges of treason, accused of having conspired with the United States to topple Hun Sen. He denies the charges, calling them politically motivated. If convicted, Sokha would face up to 30 years in prison.
Some reporters were allowed to view trial proceedings yesterday after being barred from sessions last week.
In the video, which runs for over an hour and was submitted as evidence by Sokha himself, the defendant said he had received advice and financing from unidentified Americans to support ways of fostering democracy and human rights in Cambodia.
“I rented a radio station, America let me rent a radio station...to educate people at the grassroots,” Sokha said in the video, citing a station owned by local former opposition politician Mam Sonando.
“I...brought him $50,000 of US money for him to set up the radio, making its signal stronger (so as to) air my speeches every day from public forums,” Sokha said.
He denied any intent to seek change through violence in Cambodia, which suffered bloody upheaval in which some 2mn people died under the brutal Maoist Khmer Rouge
regime during the 1970s.
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