Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

French and US ambassadors visit Kem Sokha

Leader of CNRP Kem Sokha meets French Ambassador to Cambodia Eva Nguyen Binhin at his home 11November 2019. Stringer

Opposition leader Kem Sokha on Monday welcomed the French and U.S. ambassadors to his house, one day after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court released him from house arrest but ordered him to refrain from political activities.

French Ambassador Eva Nguyen Binh visited the Tuol Kork home around 10:30 a.m., though she declined to comment afterward. The French Embassy later said on its Facebook page that it hoped to see Sokha, whose Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017, undergo “rehabilitation.”

U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy arrived in the afternoon, and spoke to journalists as he left, saying it was the U.S.’s “advice” to Cambodian authorities to drop the treason charge against Sokha.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 after being accused of working with the U.S. to overthrow the government. The government released a video of him giving a speech in Melbourne and apparently saying that “the USA, which has assisted me, has asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they were able to change the dictator Milosevic.”

Murphy said it was a “joy” to see Sokha, and also called for the charges against two journalists from Radio Free Asia, a U.S. State Department radio news service, to also be dropped.

“That would be good for Cambodia, it would be good for Cambodia’s relations with its neighbors and with my country the United States,” Murphy said.

Sokha apologized that he could not give a comment to gathered journalists.

“I have been banned from doing any political activities. I’m not allowed to give any message that is related to politics,” Sokha said. “I don’t really know what exactly is related to politics and what is not. So I need more instruction, and apologize that I can’t give further comment.”

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin told CamboJA by message that Sokha was free to meet with people across the country as long as conversation was limited to “the general situation.”

“Unless he attempts to talk about a political agenda, conduct any activities or show support for any political movement,” Malin said.