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Publisher answers charges

Accused of defamation in corruption coverage.

THE publisher of a Khmer-language newspaper told a Municipal Court prosecutor Wednesday that he stood by articles detailing high-level corruption allegations, adding that he would not identify his newspaper's sources.

"When the prosecutor asked me to show them more information, I told them that I still stood by the information published in my newspaper and told them that I could not reveal the source of  the information," Hang Chakra, publisher of Khmer Machas Srok News, told the Post after the hearing.

Hang Chakra faces criminal and civil complaints in connection with three articles published in April and May that he said uncovered corruption on the part of officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

He said Wednesday that he was considering filing a complaint against government lawyer Suong Chanthan, who filed the complaints against him.

Suong Chanthan said Wednesday that he planned to use the three articles to demonstrate that Hang Chakra is guilty of defamation and publishing false information.

Under the Press Law, publishing false information is a criminal offense for which the court can impose a fine of between 1 million riels (US$241) and 5 million riels. Defamation is a civil offense, and Suong Chanthan requested compensation totalling 10 million riels in that complaint.

Sam Rithy Doung Hak, deputy director of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), said civil and criminal complaints against journalists posed a threat to democracy. 

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