Cambodia’s Main Opposition Leader Arrested for Treason

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – On Sunday, September 3rd, Cambodia’s main opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for treason. He is accused of violating Article 443 which prevents officials from “colluding with foreigners.” If convicted, Mr. Sokha could face a 30 year jail term.

Kem Sokha was arrested outside his house in Phnom Penh. Photo courtesy of New York Times.

The opposition leader was arrested during a heavy crackdown on critics of Prime Minister Sen’s government. The government officals accused Mr. Sokha of discussing plots with the United States government to undermine Cambodia.

The government, as evidence, disclosed a four-year-old video of Mr. Sokha giving a speech and stating that he has received advice from the United States government on establishing an opposition group in Cambodia.

According to Mr. Sokha’s daughter, Ken Monovithya, more than 100 police officers surrounded their home and arrest her father without a warrant. She stated that Mr. Sokha was handcuffed and escorted to an unmarked vehicle by numerous officers. It is reported that he is currently being held at a remote prison near the Vietnamese boarder. He has not been given an opportunity to speak to an attorney.

Upon Mr. Sokha’s arrest, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh commented that the charges “appear to be politically motivated.”

The Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party will face a tough election next year. After ruling the country for more than three decades, Mr. Sen’s critics have accused him of trying to eliminate his oppositions prior to the upcoming election.

The New York based Human Rights Watch group has recently stated that “the government and the ruling CPP have manufactured these treason charges against Kem Sokha for political purposes, aiming to try and knock the political opposition out of the ring before the 2018 electoral contest ever begins.”

NYT – Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason – 2 September, 2017

Reuters – Cambodia charges opposition leader with treason – 5 September, 2017

Aljazeera – Cambodia politician Kem Sokha charged with treason – 6 September, 2017

Zambia Opposition Leader Charged in Convoy Clash

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter 

LUSAKA, Zambia–Zambia opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been charged with treason after interfering with the presidential motorcade.  Hichilema was traveling in a convoy near the President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.  Hichilema’s motorcade refused to move for President Lungu’s convoy and President Lungu’s convoy subsequently tried to overtake Hichilema’s motorcade.  Zambian police claim that Hichilema endangered the life of the President by refusing to pull over.

Zambia opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. (Photo Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

In Zambia, treason is a severe offense and the accused cannot be released on bail.  The charge also carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.  Police chief Kakoma Kanjanga made a statement regarding Hichilema’s arrest.  “It has been established that the opposition leader disobeyed police orders to clear the way, thereby putting the life of the head of state in danger.  We have today jointly charged and arrested Mr Hichilema and five others with treason.”  Kanjanga continued by stating “I wish to reiterate that the actions by the opposition leader were unreasonable, reckless and criminal. Therefore members of the public are being warned that as police we are not going to watch such kind of behavior by any person, irrespective of their status,” he added.

Hichilema narrowly lost the Zambian presidency to President Lungu last year.  Many in Hichilema’s party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), do not see Lungu as the legitimate president of Zambia.  Tensions are rising between parties as the details of Hichilema’s arrest are reported.  Armed police raided Hichilema’s home during the night of Tuesday April 11th.  Hichilema was subsequently arrested and detained.

For more information, please see: 

Africa News – Zambian opposition chief gets treason charge for blocking presidential convoy – 12 April 2017

Al Jazeera – UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema Charged with Treason – 13 April 2017

BBC Africa – Zambia Police Hichilema over motorcade clash – 12 April 2017 

Bloomberg Politics – Zambian Police Charge Opposition Leader Hichilema With Treason – 12 April 2017

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Executed for Espionage

by Zachary Lucas
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian nuclear scientist was executed after being tried and convicted of espionage and treason. Iranian officials say the scientist gave “vital information” to the United States.

Amiri Returned to Iran in 2010 (Photo Courtesy of CNN)

Iranian nuclear scientist, Shahram Amiri, was executed after being in custody for six years by Iranian officials. Iranian judiciary officials stated that Amiri was hung after he gave state secrets away to the United States. Deputy Chief Justice of Iran, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, said Amiri provided top secret information to the “number one sworn enemy, America.” Amiri’s execution came years after his conviction as it was being reviewed by the highest court in Iran. The court stated they reviewed the case with “extreme care.”

In 2009, Amiri vanished while on a religious pilgrimage to Saudia Arabia. A year later, Amiri turned up in the United States. Iranian officials accused the United States of abducting Amiri while the United States claimed Amiri had defected to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Amiri, while in the United States, claimed he was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency and later sought asylum at the Pakistani Embassy where he asked to be brought home.

Initially when Amiri returned, he was given a hero’s welcome which was extensively covered in the Iranian media. Amiri claimed he faced “psychological warfare” while in the United States. United States officials state he gave up information voluntarily. Shortly after his return, he was arrested by Iranian officials accused of espionage and treason. There were reports that, while in custody, Amiri was subjected to torture.

Amiri’s mother has stated that her son was unfairly tried and was innocent. Amiri’s mother along with watch groups question the closed-door trial of Amiri. Amiri’s mother claims that he was not given proper representation and was never allowed to talk with his lawyer. Iranian judicary officials have provided no comments concerning the way the trial was handled.

For more information, please see:

BBC — Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri executed for treason — 7 August 2016

CNN — Iran: Nuclear scientist executed for spying for ‘Great Satan’ U.S. — 8 August 2016

Guardian — Iran executes nuclear scientist who returned to country from US — 7 August 2016

Reuters — Executed Iranian nuclear scientist unfairly tried, said he was innocent: mother — 9 August 2016

Washington Post — Iran says it executed a nuclear scientist for spying — 7 August 2016