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Leaflet suspects identified

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Nov Leakhana, deputy director of the internal security department at the Interior Ministry, holds up a photograph yesterday of a man suspected of distributing anti-government leaflets in Battambang.

Ministry of Interior officials announced at a National Police meeting yesterday that provincial courts had issued warrants for the arrest of four fugitives believed to be hiding in Thailand and suspected of ordering the distribution of hundreds of anti-government leaflets.

Major General Nov Leakhana, deputy director of the Internal Security Department at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that a national police investigation had revealed that six men arrested last week on suspicion of distributing anti-government leaflets are believed to be the fugitives’ subordinates.

Nov Leakhana said that three Khmer Krom ‘ringleaders’ and a female suspect accused of disinformation ordered six men to distribute leaflets in Phnom Penh, Takeo, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Preah Sihanouk provinces within the last few months.

Nov Leakhana said that one of the ringleaders was 35-year-old Khmer Krom Buddhist monk, Thach Kongphuong, who disguised himself in non-religious clothing and secretly distributed anti-government leaflets in Takeo province on January 7.

“The four are hiding themselves in Thailand, and among those is a monk,” he said.

Senior investigator for Licadho Am Sam Ath said the distribution of anti-government leaflets was popular in Cambodia lately and viewed leaflet distribution as freedom of speech.

“Our country has this kind of law [about criticising government leaders and inciting civil unrest] and it restricts the freedom of expression,” he said.

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