Kampot provincial police yesterday detained a former monk for questioning after Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of being a fake monk and spreading false news about the country.
During a speech to garment workers in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen asked authorities in Kampot to find and question a man he identified as Mary, whom he believed to be a fake monk spreading false news in Kep, Kampot and Takeo provinces.
A few hours later, Kampot provincial police found Mr Mary in Kampong Trach district and detained him for questioning.
Kampot province police chief Major General Mao Chanmathurith said that police allowed Mr Mary to go back home after questioning him.
“We did not arrest him,” he said. “We just invited him for questioning.”
According to police, Mr Mary is 74 years old and joined the Funcinpec party in 1993, after which he defected to the Sam Rainsy Party in 2003. He then became a monk at a pagoda in Kep province in 2015, but was defrocked last month.
Mr Hun Sen yesterday added that Mr Mary is a “liar” and was deceiving the country by spreading false news, which he did not specifically identify.
“He lied to Khmers in the country,” Mr Hun Sen said. “I order to find this guy. We have his location and photos.”
“Do not assume that while we are ruling the country, we do not have our intelligence network,” he added, noting that Mr Mary lied to people in Kep and then fled to Takeo and finally Kampot.
“Keep eyes on him,” the premier said. “This is not freedom of information; he is doing intelligence work.”