Cambodian US Army Major Convicted in Data Leak
By | June 17, 2013

Government officials on Sunday said they had no knowledge of a Cambodian-American U.S. Army major convicted in the U.S. on Friday of illegally possessing and passing on classified national intelligence records and having unauthorized contact with Cambodian officials.

Major Seivirak Inson was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military jury that also forfeited his pay and dismissed him from the army after 20 years of service, according to reports by the Associated Press and others.

General Hing Bunheang, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit, disavowed any knowledge of or relationship with Maj. Inson.

“We were not involved with him,” Gen. Bunheang said. “I don’t know him,” he added without elaborating.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, also said he did not know about the case though he expressed hope that the incident would not damage U.S.-Cambodia relations.

“Cambodian-Americans, whoever, they should respect the rules,” he said. “No matter [who] they are…if you work for a foreign government, they have to respect American interests.”

“We don’t want this incident to create anti-sentiment between the two countries,” he added.

Defense Minister General Tea Banh and other officials at the ministry could not be reached for comment.

Among the documents unlawfully in Maj. Inson’s possession was a classified “U.S. Pacific Command maritime strategy document” that “he had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States,” according to U.S. news reports.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Saturday that Maj. Inson was also convicted for failing to report contacts he had with Cambodian military and government officials and of passing the classified intelligence assessments about Cambodia to an unidentified person between 2009 and 2012.

Still, the jury reportedly found Maj. Inson not guilty of gathering information about other Cambodians serving in the U.S. armed forces with the intent of passing the intelligence on to the Cambodian military.

Maj. Inson was found guilty, however, of adultery and fraudulently signing a bank document after his wife provided the U.S. Army with evidence, according to U.S. media reports.

Sean McIntosh, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, declined to comment on the case because it was a “military-judicial” matter and referred all questions to the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, which could not be reached.

Questions to the U.S. Army’s 8th Theater Sustainment Com­mand, where Maj. Inson was serving, also in Hawaii, were not immediately replied to.

The revelation comes amid growing U.S. military aid to Cambodia, which reached approximately $6 million in 2011, according to the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. pays for regular joint military exercises with RCAF units in Cambodia and paved the way for military training for all three of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sons.

Mr. Hun Manet, the eldest, had his education paid for at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The U.S. Defense Department paid $175,000 to send the youngest, Hun Many, to the U.S. National Defense University in Washington for a year. According to U.S. diplomatic cables obtained and released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, the U.S. also sent the middle son, Hun Manith, to a counterterrorism program in Germany.

Opposition lawmakers and rights groups have repeatedly urged the U.S. to end its military aid to Cambodia over numerous allegations of the Cambodian military’s human rights abuses. But the U.S. has defended the relationship, insisting that its involvement strives to develop RCAF’s professional capacity and complies with all U.S. laws and regulations.

The U.S. did suspend military aid to Cambodia after armed forces loyal to then-Second Prime Minister Hun Sen ousted then-First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh during factional fighting in 1997, but resumed the aid in 2006.

(Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)

© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.

LATEST

Phnom Penh City Hall will in September establish two new municipal bus lines after 40 secondhand buses purchased from South Korea arrived at the port in Sihanoukville last week, a city official said.

When Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP President Sam Rainsy emerged from the talks that ended the opposition’s boycott of parliament on July 22, Mr. Rainsy said the party’s 55 lawmakers-elect would swear into the National Assembly the following week.

On Wednesday, with one week to go before a verdict is rendered in the first phase of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Case 002, the initial hearings are opening into the expansive case’s second trial.

The former owner of a Phnom Penh garment factory gutted by a fire on Monday has agreed to provide loans to about 900 out-of-work employees until the current owner decides whether and how to pay them due wages and severance.

Workers at a Taiwanese-owned sandal factory in Kompong Cham province on strike since last week over an eight-point list of demands agreed to go back to work Tuesday after reaching a deal with management that included a monthly lunch stipend.

The Cambodia Daily | All the News Without Fear or Favor | The Daily Newspaper of Record Since 1993