THE Club of Cambodian Journalists on Sunday called for the release of a reporter for the daily newspaper Koh Santepheap who is being held in advance of his trial on extortion charges.
Sim Samnang was arrested on April 8 after Siem Reap provincial court charged him with extortion. Court Prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said at the time that Sim Samnang had visited a timber warehouse in late March and threatened to expose it to the authorities unless its owner paid him and other journalists a bribe.
CCJ President Pen Samitthy said Sim Samnang should not be held in pretrial detention, and that the organisation would work to secure his release.
“We will do this work with his family to find a way to get him out of detention. He is just a suspect,” he said.
Ty Soveinthal on Sunday declined to say when the reporter’s trial would take place. When Sim Samnang was charged, he said local officials were looking for others believed to have been involved in the alleged extortion scheme, though on Sunday he said there were no plans to issue other arrest warrants in the case.
Meanwhile, Koh Santepheap Publisher Thong Uypang declined to comment on the case beyond saying the Sim Samnang would not be invited back to work for him if he is found not guilty and released.
“He acted outside of the code of journalism. I have nothing to say about this. Being such a journalist, it is easy to arrest him. I don’t know how to say if he acted like this,” Thong Uypang said. “I will not accept him back to work for me. Let other newspapers take him.”
Earlier this month, Sim Samnang proclaimed his innocence, saying two other journalists had convinced him to go to the warehouse, and that he had merely asked its owner for money for gasoline. “I just told the owner of the shop to give some money for gasoline expenses to the other journalists,” he said.