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Facebook runs into lawsuit over Cambodian politics

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 Former Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has filed a legal case in the United States to get Facebook to release information on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s use of the social media platform, his legal team said.

Lawyers for Sam Rainsy, who fled Cambodia in 2015 to escape a conviction for defamation he says was politically motivated, said he sought the information to help him in his own legal cases in Cambodia.

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Supporters of Hun Sen have built a strong presence on Facebook.

Sam Rainsy wants information on allegations of “false likes” on Hun Sen’s Facebook account, accusations that the platform had been used to make death threats and the use of state money for advertisements, his legal team said in a statement on Wednesday.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the lawsuit was “not useful”.

The case highlights the growing global nature of the challenge to Facebook Inc over its role in political debate after accusations that social media was used for meddling in votes in Britain, the United States and elsewhere.

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Facebook has become an ever more important platform for political news in Cambodia as some media outlets critical of Hun Sen have been forced to shut.

Hun Sen, 65, has been criticized by Western countries over a ban on the main opposition party and the arrest of its leader less than a year away from a general election on July 29.

Paris-based Sam Rainsy sought “critical information in Facebook’s possession regarding Hun Sen’s misuse of social media to deceive Cambodia’s electorate and to commit human rights abuses,” according to the statement.

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“The petition raises fundamental questions about how Facebook should deal with human rights abusers who manipulate elections,” said Sam Rainsy’s attorney, Richard J. Rogers, of rights group Global Diligence LLP.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case, which Sam Rainsy’s lawyers said had been brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Hun Sen’s Facebook profile was private, the Cambodian government spokesman added.

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“The Facebook profile of the Samdech Prime Minister is private, it’s not a terrorist group to cause any insecurity with any country,” said Phay Siphan, using the official title for Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than 33 years.

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion users globally, tells advertisers they have the potential to reach 6.6 million people in Cambodia, from a population of nearly 16 million.

It says more than 5.5 million people have expressed an interest in, or liked, pages related to Hun Sen, of whom 1.8 million are in Cambodia.

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Comparable figures for Sam Rainsy are 2.2 million people expressing an interest, with 1.7 million within Cambodia.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul and Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Clarence Fernandez)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady

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MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.

"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."

Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.

Watch the video below from MSNBC.

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‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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CNN

WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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