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Editor says lawsuit threatens free press

The editor of a leading Khmer- language newspaper has issued a public statement expressing grave concern over press freedom in the Kingdom in response to a defamation lawsuit filed against him.

Rasmei Kampuchea editor-in-chief Pen Samithy was sued for defamation on October 24 by Siem Reap provincial prosecutor Ty Sovinthal, in connection with two articles published in the newspaper about illegal logging in the province.

The unnamed author of the articles, published in July and October, was included in the lawsuit.

Pen Samithy, who is the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, denied the allegat-ion against him.

“The two articles publicised in Rasmei Kampuchea were based on fact. The author of the article is a professional reporter who used actual quotations from those involved,” he said.

“There is no basis for a def-amation lawsuit.”

Ty Sovinthal said Pen Sam-ithy should “dare to be responsible before the law for what he did”.

He said he had repeatedly urged Pen Samithy to identify the illegal loggers referred to in the articles, so they could be brought to justice, but had received no response.

As a result, Ty Sovinthal said  he had no other choice but to assume that the news articles were misleading.

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