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Imprisoned reporter to press for release

JAILED journalist Ros Sokhet said yesterday that Information Minister Khieu Kanharith has agreed to assist him in his efforts to leave prison before his sentence is completed in order to care for his aging mother.

Speaking from his cell at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, Ros Sokhet said that he planned to write to the minister today, seeking an official notification with details of his release, after getting in touch with him informally by phone.

“I have asked our Minister of Information to intervene in my case so he will agree to help me,” he said. “I will send my letter to him through my sister tomorrow, so she can hand it to him personally.”

Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that he would be happy to receive a letter from Ros Sokhet, and will determine what he can do to help him.

“I will try my best to coordinate this problem,” he said. “We are now collecting some documents relating to his case and are solving the problem.”

In November last year, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Ros Sokhet to two years jail after finding him guilty of spreading disinformation.
The charges stemmed from a series of text messages he sent to well-known commentator and news anchor Soy Sopheap.

During his trial, Ros Sokhet was accused of alleging that Soy Sopheap demanded money from a woman arrested for firing a pistol illegally in exchange for keeping her story out of the press.

He confessed that he had sent the messages, but said he was only alerting Soy Sopheap to rumours already in circulation. In June, Ros Sokhet wrote to Surya Subedi, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, urging him to intervene on his behalf and request that the Appeal Court hear his appeal as soon as possible.

Ros Sokhet said that as of Tuesday, he had served 11 months of his sentence, and decided to approach the government due to worries about his 89-year-old mother’s health.

“It is too late to go through the court procedures, so I am seeking help from the government,” he said. “I am afraid that I could not go to see my mother’s face because she is old and sick, barring her from going to the pagoda during the Pchum Ben festival.”

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