Yasith left Cambodia in the early 1980s, amid the disarray following the Vietnamese invasion that deposed the Khmer Rouge régime from power. He emigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a tax accountant in Long Beach, California. In 1988, he returned to Cambodia and joined the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. He left the party a year later after he came to believe that the non-violent opposition was ineffective.
In 1998, he established the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CCF) an anti-communist organization and serves as its President. The group’s aim was to unseat the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who had defected to Vietnam in the 1970s and returned to Cambodia with the Vietnamese troops in 1979. The group—controlled by Chhun from a base in Thailand—carried out a series of small attacks. On 24 November 2000, dozens of rebels armed with rockets and grenades attacked government buildings in Phnom Penh. Several people were killed in this attack and several others injured. Following the attack, dozens of people were arrested and jailed. Chhun was tried in absentia by a Phnom Penh court. On June 22, 2001, the Cambodian Criminal Court found Yasith guilty and sentenced him to life in prison on charges of conspiring to commit terrorism, along with Richard Kiri Kim and Thong Samien.
On April 17, 2008, Chhun Yasith was convicted in a U.S. court of masterminding the failed coup attempt in 2000. He was sentenced in Los Angeles on June 22, 2010 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- "I felt that nonviolence cannot do anything to the dictatorship in Cambodia."
- "Yeah, we tried to remove this government from power. We have a non-violent demonstration many times, but never change this government. That's why we have to use force to remove this government."
- General Vang Pao - former Major General in the Royal Lao Army. Leader of the Hmong American community in the United States, arrested for his alleged plot to overthrow the Communist government of Laos.
- Government of Free Vietnam
- Man guilty of Cambodia coup plot, April 17, 2008. BBC News
- Former refugee gets life term over failed Cambodian coup, June 23, 2010. The LA Times
- The Strip-Mall Revolutionaries, July 21, 2007. The New York Times