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Court calls journalist accused of extortion

Siem Reap province
A JOURNALIST accused of extortion and disinformation has been ordered to appear in Siem Reap provincial court today for questioning, a court official said.

Heng Pheng, the court’s deputy prosecutor, said Phlong Ret, 30, had been summoned after a complaint was sent to the court on Janury 15 by the owner of a lumber warehouse in Varin district.

The warehouse owner, Chan Bol, said the journalist tried to extort US$24 from him and later published two articles accusing him of trafficking in illicit lumber. The articles are the subject of the disinformation claims.

Phlong Ret, currently a reporter for Omnath Khmer newspaper, has maintained his innocence, stating that the disagreement stemmed from an incident on December 22, 2008, when about 20 journalists photographed a truck that was transporting logs while being escorted by a military vehicle.

“I did not demand or take any money,” he said yesterday. “But I am very concerned over the possibility of detention after the questioning session.”
He said that he did not plan to appear in court today and would instead wait for a fresh summons.

“Our clerk told him to come on August 2. It is his right to decide not to come,” investigating judge Hok Pov said.

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