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Court rules that journo has to pay

A journalist and British national was hit with steep financial penalties in court yesterday for remarks made on his blog last year.

Rupert Winchester was convicted on defamation charges and ordered by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to pay 8 million riel ($2,000) in fines and 100 million riel ($25,000) in compensation to a French businessman.

Etienne Chevenier sued Winchester, then a reporter at the Post, for remarks about him posted on the writer’s personal blog in June 2013.

“I’m very disappointed, but I’m going to appeal,” Winchester said yesterday. Chevenier could not be reached.

The verdict raised questions about how the courts treat online freedom of expression.

“Cyberspace in Cambodia is currently fairly free . . . but convictions over statements made online are something to be concerned about in terms of legal precedent,” said Sorn Ramana, a project coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

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