Opposition leader Kem Sokha was charged with treason by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday after being questioned by a deputy prosecutor at the Trapaing Phlong prison in Thbong Khmum province.
Court spokesman Ly Sophana said after deputy prosecutor Kuoch Kimlong checked the evidence and questioned the suspect that he had decided to charge Mr Sokha over an alleged conspiracy with a foreign power.
He added that the prosecutor had sent the case to the investigating judge.
Article 443 of the Criminal Code states that a conspiracy with a foreign power is defined as having a secret agreement with a foreign state or its agents with a view to fomenting hostilities or aggression against the Kingdom of Cambodia and is punishable by 15 to 30 years in jail.
The court also released a statement defending the arrest, claiming it was legal and followed procedures. The charge against Mr Sokha was based on video footage published by the Australian-based CBN and other evidence collected by police, the court said.
The statement added that conspiracy with a foreign power was treason as stated in Article 443 of the criminal code.
“The acts which continue until now is determined as flagrant delicto according to the criminal procedure code of Cambodia,” said the statement, adding that the arrest was legitimate.
Monovithya Kem, Mr Sokha’s daughter said on Twitter: “Kem Sokha’s message from prison: I may lose freedom, but may freedom never die in Cambodia.”
Meanwhile, at a press conference on Monday in Beijing, China declared its support for the actions taken by the government, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang.
He said China had noted the relevant information over this issue.
“As a good neighbour, friend, partner and brother of Cambodia, the Chinese side has always supported Cambodia in following the development path suited to its national conditions and the Cambodian government’s effort to uphold national security and stability,” Mr Shuang said.
However, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said there was international concern over the arrest of Mr Sokha, which he said appears to have been carried out with no respect for due process guarantees, including respect for his parliamentary immunity.