Activist and lawyer Theary Seng, who dressed as the Statue of Liberty during her trial, was sentenced to 6 years in prison for treason Tuesday in Cambodia along with 50 other political opposition figures, The Guardian reported.
Seng was charged with incitement and conspiracy after allegedly assisting the exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy with an attempt to return to Cambodia, according to Human Rights Watch.
Seng fled in 1979 to the US and returned to Cambodia in 2004 after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School. She protested the Cambodian government during her trial by wearing outfits portraying symbols of democracy and free societies.
On her last day in court she imitated the Statue of Liberty. “I am Lady Liberty,” she shouted as she approached the courthouse, according to The Guardian, “I am freedom. And it won’t just be me found guilty today – all the Cambodians who love freedom, who are genuine democrats, will be found guilty.”
The American ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, was “deeply troubled” by the outcome of the trial.
We are deeply troubled by today’s verdict against Seng Theary. Freedom of expression and association, and tolerance of dissenting views, are vital components of democracy. We call on Cambodian authorities to release her and other human rights activists from unjust imprisonment. pic.twitter.com/ZMVygsHb6h
— Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy (@USAmbCambodia) June 14, 2022
Fifty-one members of the banned opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) were convicted, according to HRW. Twelve of them received an eight-year prison sentence and 19 others were sentenced to six years, The Diplomat reported. (RELATED: New Trial For Putin Opposition Figure Alexei Navalny Could Add Over A Decade Of Prison Time)
Twenty-seven of the defendants are still in exile, including Rainsy, and were tried in absentia, according to HRW.