Members Confirm CPP-Linked ‘Cyber War Room’
Cambodia Daily | 26 May 2017
Documents leaked to media reports this week suggest Prime Minister Hun Sen, his eldest son Hun Manet and son-in-law Sok Puthyvuth, and other prominent CPP-affiliated officials, were involved in an ongoing campaign to spread CPP rhetoric, monitor opposition supporters on social media and attack CNRP leaders.
Two government officials listed as senior members of a “Cyber War Room” denied the existence of the group on Thursday even as five current and past members of the body confirmed its existence.
The documents and emails were forwarded to reporters beginning on Sunday, apparently from the hacked Gmail account of Kim Santepheap, an undersecretary of state at the Justice Ministry and ministry spokesman, who is also listed as a deputy head of the war room, dubbed the CWR, on a leaked roster.
Mr. Santepheap denied the veracity of the leaks, suggesting that a hacker had created “illegal news” by tampering with his account. He had filed a complaint on Saturday with the National Police claiming his personal email and Facebook accounts had been hacked, which was reported by the media on Monday.
“The hacker probably tried to create confusion in the news and if the media broadcasts it, it will make the public confused too,” he said. “As reporters know, my only duty is as undersecretary of state at the Justice Ministry.”
National Police spokesman Kirth Chatharith could not be reached for comment on Mr. Santepheap’s complaint.
Dith Tina, a spokesman for the Mines and Energy Ministry who is listed as a deputy chairman of the CWR, claimed yesterday to have never heard of the group and urged reporters to focus on more optimistic stories.
But five people listed on the leaked documents from 2013 said they were either current or former members of the CWR, even as they seemed reluctant to discuss the group’s activities.
Rin Vireak, who is listed as deputy head of the group on a 2013 CWR contact list, said he “stopped already” when asked if he was involved with the CWR before hanging up on a reporter.
The CWR contact list included 40 people, with their telephone numbers and email addresses, and a second contact list included more than 100 “foot soldiers.” The five who spoke to Daily reporters confirmed their names as listed.
Takeo province governor Lay Vannak acknowledged he was an active member of the province’s CWR working group while Ieng Aunny, listed as a member of the working group, said he had left the group four years ago. Both men said they were too busy to answer more questions.
Yam Panha, who identified herself as a university student studying business, said she, too, was an active member of the CWR, but claimed to be too busy and junior in rank to elaborate on her role, which was listed on the 2013 roster as a member of the administrative team.
“I cannot tell you very much about the CWR or something because I’m just a member,” she said, demanding to know how reporters knew about the group and obtained her phone number.
Seng Kim Hong, listed as a support member, said he left the group about a year ago, and declined to answer questions about its activities, saying “because something is secret so I cannot tell you.”