Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) activist Mai Hongsreang was placed in pre-trial detention, said Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong.
“Prosecutor Riel Sophin charged Hongsreang and forwarded the case to the investigative judge. He decided to charge him with two crimes – ‘incitement to discriminate’ and ‘incitement to commit a felony’. The investigative judge decided to put him in pre-trial detention,” said Kimlong.
Under Article 296 of the Criminal Code, “incitement to discriminate” is punishable by between one and three years in prison and a fine of between two and six million riel ($500 and $1,500).
“Incitement to commit a felony” under the code’s Article 495 carries a maximum prison term of two years and a fine of four million riel.
Hongsreang was arrested in the capital by anti-cybercrime police on Tuesday night for allegedly insulting the government leadership by altering their photos.
The CNRP condemned the arrest and called on the authorities to release Hongsreang. It said he was their 14th activist who had been arrested since the beginning of this year.
“This further demonstrates that the courts are being used to execute Mr Hun Sen’s orders to eliminate all opposition members, no matter where they are,” said former CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) country representative Simon Walker said the OHCHR did not have verified information on the case.
Referring to a June 19 statement by the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Cambodia Rhona Smith, Walker said Smith had expressed her concerns “about the use of criminal law to target free speech, both offline and online” in the context of the recent questioning, summoning and detention of political actors.
“Ms Smith called upon the government to lead ‘a change of the political culture to one of dialogue with a focus on issues rather than people, as a way to move ahead and to create a solid basis for durable peace, sustainable development and the enjoyment of all human rights’,” he said.