Cambodia arrests opposition leader

Credit By Voice of America (VOA) (VOA Khmer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cambodia’s opposition leader was arrested while the last remaining independent newspapers in the country was forced to close down in a crackdown ahead of elections.

With the elections scheduled for next year, the worsening climate of political repression deepened with opposition politician Kem Sokha taken from his home in an early-morning raid on Sunday.

He is accused of plotting to overthrow the government with the support of the U.S.

Hours later, the Cambodia Daily, long a champion of human-rights causes, said it would cease business as a result of what it characterized as a politicized tax dispute, said the Wall Street Journal.

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen last month called the Cambodia Daily “a thief” and suggested its American founders should “pack up and go.”

On Sunday, his government issued its owners a tax bill for $6.3 million, based on authorities’ own calculations of the paper’s revenue and a 20% profit margin, said The Journal.

The newspaper says it operates at a loss and has offered tax inspectors the opportunity to examine its accounts.

Cambodia’s government has also initiated tax investigations into U.S.-funded broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, both of which say they comply with Cambodian law.