THE daughter of jailed newspaper editor Hang Chakra said Thursday that she had been informed by prison officials that her father would be released after receiving a pardoned from King Norodom Sihamoni.
Hang Chan Pisey said Thursday that she had contacted prison officials Wednesday evening and been told that Hang Chakra’s name had been included on a list of inmates the government had recommended be pardoned and released.
“The prison chief told me that my father will be released on the first day of the Khmer New Year [April 14], and if he is not released on that day he will be released a week after Khmer New Year,” she said.
Heng Hak, the director general of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons, told the Post on Wednesday that Hang Chakra was on a list of 75 people recommended by the government to be released during the upcoming round of Khmer New Year pardons, and that his release would take place in advance of the holiday.
“Hang Chakra is one of the 75 inmates who will be released from prison,” he said, adding that the editor was considered a “special case” and thus would be released early.
“He will be released before the New Year because he wrote a letter apologising to Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.
Hang Chakra, editor in chief of Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, was sentenced to one year in prison last June after he was convicted of spreading disinformation in a series of stories accusing officials of corruption. The next month, he wrote to Hun Sen apologising for the articles and pledging to cease publication if he was pardoned.
Pov Buntheoun, director of the Criminal Department at the Justice Ministry, said Thursday that he had sent the document containing the list of prisoners’ names to the Council of Ministers, and that the list would be returned to him, at which time he would send it to the Royal Palace.
He said he expected the list to be sent to the palace in “about two days’ time”.
Pung Chhiv Kek, president of rights group Licadho, said Thursday that she was happy to hear that Hang Chakra would be freed, and noted that NGOs had been calling for his release since he was first jailed.
“We regret his detention,” she said. “He should not have been arrested because journalists should have freedom of expression. If they do something wrong, they can correct it.”