Prime Minister Zoom Bombs Opposition's Video Call to Warn Them His Spies Are Watching

Cambodia's prime minister said Friday that he Zoom bombed a video conference call hosted by his political opponents to warn them that he and his spies were watching them, the Associated Press reported.

Hun Sen spoke about joining a call for former members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party earlier this month. Long Ry, a former opposition lawmaker, said Hun Sen was able to join the Zoom meeting because one of his team members shared the link or password with others, Radio Free Asia reported.

Radio Free Asia, a U.S. government-funded news service, quoted Long Ry as saying he would be happy to invite Hun Sen to future meetings to discuss national issues.

"But morally, when people sneak a peak into our affairs, we are not happy," Long Ry said. "In politics, I think we should employ honest and straightforward methods, and not take advantage of others by secretly sneaking into their affairs."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Hun Sen
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said he Zoom bombed a video conference call hosted by his political opponents earlier this month. Above, Hun Sen (center) leaves the 25th International Conference on The Future of Asia on May 30, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Hun Sen suddenly appeared on the September 9 call held by former members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved in 2017 by a Cambodian court ahead of the 2018 general election.

The country's courts are widely seen as doing the government's bidding, in this case eliminating the sole credible opposition party ahead of the polls. The opposition group had been expected to present a strong challenge to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party.

Clips of part of the video intrusion have been circulating on social media. They show Hun Sen holding a 12-minute conversation with Long Ry.

In their chat, Hun Sen complained that members of the former opposition party insulted him personally even though, he claimed, he had tried to promote a "culture of dialogue."

Sok Eysan, a spokesman for Hun Sen's party, initially denied that the intrusion and exchange had taken place, saying the video clip was a fabrication.

Hun Sen, however, during a live television broadcast Friday marking the start of a campaign to vaccinate children for the coronavirus, acknowledged the exchange and said he had listened in on about 20 previous calls of his opponents without revealing his presence or showing his face.

He also wrote on his Facebook page about his exploit, stressing that he had not been reaching out to negotiate, but to warn them against disruptive activities.

Most senior members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party fled into exile after the party was dissolved. Hun Sen has been in power for more than 36 years and said repeatedly he has no intention of stepping down soon. Human rights groups and Western nations accuse his government of suppressing democratic and human rights.

Crashing other people's Zoom conferences became a small fad last year when use of the app skyrocketed during the pandemic as many people began working at home. It is usually accomplished by obtaining a password, which is often casually circulated online to people invited to participate in the group call.