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Cambodia

Radio Free Asia Cambodian journalists charged with providing information to foreign nation

The two former RFA reporters were detained for questioning last Tuesday after police discovered they had rented a hotel room in Phnom Penh, which they were suspected of using as an office in continuing to provide news about the country

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 10:35pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 November, 2017, 10:35pm

Two Cambodian journalists who used to work for US-funded Radio Free Asia were charged on Saturday with providing information to a foreign country and face 15 years in prison if found guilty.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Sieng Sok issued the charge, which accuses the two journalists of “providing information to a foreign state which may damage the nation”.

If found guilty, the two journalists face from seven to 15 years in prison.

Uon Chhin and Yeang Socheameta both had worked for Radio Free Asia for many years until RFA closed its office in Cambodia on September 12, amid a widespread crackdown on news outlets, opposition parties and foreign funded NGOs critical of the government headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has occupied that office since 1985, making him the world’s longest-serving prime minister.

US calls on Cambodia to ‘undo’ ban on opposition party

On Thursday, Cambodia’s Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the country’s main opposition party, and banned 118 of its top members from politics from five years, including party president Kem Sokha, who was arrested in September.

In the ruling, the top court upheld an Interior Ministry complaint that the Cambodian People’s Party – which won 55 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly in the last general election, and was expected to possibly do even better in next July’s general election – and its leader Kem Sokha conspired with foreigners in trying to topple the government.

The two former RFA reporters were detained for questioning last Tuesday after police discovered they had rented a hotel room in Phnom Penh, which they were suspected of using as an office in continuing to provide Radio Free Asia with news about Cambodia.

Police said the two denied doing so, saying they used the room to produce karaoke products as a new business after losing their RFA jobs.