Environmental activist Ouch Leng and his team were yesterday detained in Koh Kong province under suspicion that they were on their way to Phnom Penh to join a protest.
Mr Leng, president of the Cambodian Human Rights Task Force, said he was driving with four passengers in the Areng valley in Koh Kong, but was stopped and detained by police.
With him were three students of the National Independence Cambodia Environment team, Heng Sros, NengW Poy, and Khut Dy. The fifth passenger was forestry activist Ven Eth.
Mr Leng was travelling to the Areng valley to monitor and protect the area from illegal logging for two days before returning to Phnom Penh.
Police officials questioned the group for more than one hour. Mr Leng and the students were allowed to go, but Mr Eth was kept for questioning. Mr Leng added that he did not know whether Mr Eth had been released yet.
“I think that we were detained because they were afraid people will go to Phnom Penh on November 16 to protest while the Supreme Court holds the hearing about the dissolution of CNRP,” he said.
Vong Mey, the district police chief in charge of the arrest and questioning, said: “They were not involved in anything so we all let them go.” He declined to comment further.
In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for human rights group Licadho, said Mr Eth was released by the police only after signing a contract preventing him to go to Phnom Penh tomorrow.
“The authorities fear people will protest in front of the Supreme Court,” Mr Kongchit said. “This is a violation of people’s liberty.”