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Freed journalist to write again

JOURNALIST Ros Sokhet, recently released from prison after having served a year on disinformation charges, yesterday announced plans to open an “independent and neutral” anticorruption newspaper that he says will target Prime Minister Hun Sen and provide a media platform for opposition parties.

Sokhet, released on Friday by the Appeal Court after serving a year in prison on charges of spreading disinformation related to a series of text messages he sent to news anchor Soy Sopheap, said the proposed four-page newspaper would run twice a week.

However, he said he had yet to submit a licence to the Ministry of Information, which needs to approve the publication before it can go to print.
“My newspaper will be an independent and neutral newspaper,” he said.

“But since we named it Kaset Brachaing Amper Pouk Rolouy [Anticorruption Newspaper], the government will be unhappy with us and think that we favour the opposition.”

He said the Sam Rainsy Party would support the paper – which he said would provide the party “a medium of expression” – and that he had already targeted Hun Sen for the first of many investigations.

“I will shoot photos and count how many houses he’s got and how many hectares of land he’s got,” he said.

“I will count how many private companies his relatives are behind, which provide those companies immunity from land grabbing charges.”

He added that he was not afraid of returning to jail, claiming that “prison officials are afraid of me, and the prison director was very cautious” during his time in Prey Sar prison.

But SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the opposition party “would not be financial backers of any proposed paper”.

“Ros Sokhet has suffered from injustice, so he understands injustice well. I hope he can help our society a lot,” he said.

“However, our party has no regulations to provide financial assistance to any media institutions.”

Nhem Noy, director of the Information Department at the Ministry of Information, said Ros Sokhet must apply for a criminal record before he can open up a newspaper.

Ith Rady, undersecretary of state at the Justice Ministry, said yesterday that a criminal record is crucial to prove that Ros Sokhet has legally finished his prison term, and that officials would have to go through all his sentence-related documents before issuing it.

Ros Sokhet said he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court to have his conviction quashed, and that both the Appeal and municipal courts had failed to provide him justice.

“They must be responsible for my physical, emotional, health and financial damages, and the damage to my reputation,” he said.

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