PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A Cambodian appeals court has overturned the widely criticized conviction of a prominent government critic who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for an alleged secessionist plot.

Mam Sonando. Pic: AP.

A judge ruled Thursday there was no evidence to support the lower court’s findings and dismissed the charges against 71-year-old radio station owner Mam Sonando.

Hundreds of people outside the courthouse cheered the decision. Sonando is expected to be freed later this week.

Mam Sonando’s Beehive Radio is one of Cambodia’s few radio stations broadcasting criticism of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

He was convicted in October on four insurrection and rebellion counts for alleged links to a secessionist movement in eastern Cambodia. He denied any involvement and human groups had criticized the hearing as “farcical” and politically motivated.