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Journalists accused of extorting authorities

Military police in Stung Treng province’s Sesan distict arrested three journalists and one of their wives yesterday for allegedly attempting to extort money from military police officers they believed to be transporting illegal timber, police and the rights group Adhoc said.

According to Adhoc coordinator Huor Sam Ol, those arrested were Neaka Reach Newspaper publisher Kim Sovananrith, 41; his wife, Try Chenda, 32; and reporters Kim Khoeun, 28, and Mom Mun, 54, who worked for the publications Cheat Khmer and Sangkum Khmer, respectively.

The four were passing through Stung Treng on their way to Phnom Penh when they saw military police officers transporting wood they believed to be contraband, Sam Ol said. They then allegedly stopped the men and asked for money in exchange for not publishing a story.

“The case will be sent to court, and the four are charged with extortion,” Sam Ol said.

Eav Sameth, deputy chief of the Stung Treng Provincial Criminal Police Office, said the journalists had demanded $500, but what the journalists thought was illegal timber was actually for building a house. He added that they were scheduled to appear in court today.

Adhoc’s Sam Ol urged investigators not to base the case solely on the word of military police officers involved.

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