PHNOM PENH —
Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week opened a trial against a university student accused of trying to start a “revolution” via Facebook.
Kong Raya, 25, was arrested in August 2015, after posting a call on Facebook for others to join him in a “color revolution.”
He told the court Friday he did not understand the implication and had thought it only meant to gather as a form of peaceful protest, and he pled the judge for leniency.
Am Sam Ath, a technical coordinator for the rights group Licadho, said the charges are severe and likely meant to stifle government dissent. “In our view, the youth just expressed his opinion,” Am Sam Ath said. “It didn’t seem to be the concern of a criminal indictment, because after he posted on Facebook, nothing happened.”
A verdict is expected March 15.
Kong Raya’s lawyer, Sam Sokkong, said his client has been critical of the government, but he has not committed a crime or sought to incite anyone. He said he hopes the court will release the young man; otherwise, he plans to appeal.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech Friday that youths play an important role for the development of the country. But he also warned that some youth had become “political tools” with “extremist views.”