Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday made a public call for the arrest or extradition of an independent radio station owner he says is trying to topple the government.
At a public speech at the National Institute of Education, Hun Sen said Mam Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio and the president of the Democracy Association, should be charged with attempting to establish a state within a state.
“If you are not in the country, we will sentence you first and request extradition,” Hun Sen said.
Beehive Radio is one of the few independent broadcast media outlets in Cambodia. It rebroadcasts VOA Khmer programming, among others.
Mam Sonando, who spoke to VOA Khmer from Switzerland, denied the allegations, but he said he would return to Cambodia next month to face the charges against him. “It is dictatorial leadership,” he said of Hun Sen’s announcement. “Those people who do not comply with his orders, or makes him unhappy, he will arrest and sentence to jail.”
Mam Sonando is accused of collaborating with a group of Cambodians in Kratie province that authorities say planned to topple the government, leading to a heavy crackdown in Prama village, Chhloung district. During a clash with villagers there in mid-May, security forces shot dead a 14-year-old girl, Heng Chantha, and began sweeping arrests of men they accused of sedition.
Mam Sonando has been arrested in the past, in 2003 for allegedly fueling anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh, and in 2005, for reporting on alleged Vietnamese border encroachment.