Cambodian activist dressed as Lady Liberty sentenced to jail for treason

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A Cambodian-American activist who arrived at her trial dressed as Lady Liberty has been sentenced to six years in jail for treason.

Theary Seng is one of 60 defendants who have been linked to opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s failed attempt to return from exile.

Some have already been jailed, while others remain at large. It is not clear how many appeared in court on Tuesday.

Theary Seng had called the verdict a “sham”, according to news agency AP.

“I am ready to pay the price of prison in order that I live out my conscience and my belief in freedom and justice,” she reportedly said.

On Tuesday, she stood outside court dressed in a green gown, holding an imitation torch and wearing a crown with the word “Freedom” written across it, before she was taken away by police.

The outspoken activist, who is also a lawyer, is known to have worn thematic costumes to her court sessions in the past.

“The mass trials against political opposition members are really about preventing any electoral challenge to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule, but they have also come to symbolise the death of Cambodia’s democracy,” said Human Rights Watch’ Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power since 1985 and is one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers.

But he is also seen as an authoritarian figure with a poor human rights record and the resources to thwart any real political challenge.

His main opposition is the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was led by Mr Rainsy, who has long been Hun Sen’s main rival.

In 2019, CNRP was dissolved as part of a crackdown on the opposition, while Mr Rainsy has been in Paris in exile.

He attempted to return to Cambodia in 2019 but said he was barred from checking-in for a flight from Paris.

Mr Rainsy faces several lawsuits at home which his supporters say are all politically motivated.

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