A day after senior government officials blasted US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia over a report they labelled untrue and a threat to national security, the station shot back, calling it an attack aimed at bullying reporters “into self-censorship”.
In a statement on Friday, RFA defended the story, which said the government had ceded roughly 10 kilometres of territory on the Thai-Cambodian border.
“[The reporting] was accurate, objective and well-sourced,” the statement reads. “The Cambodian government’s attack on RFA is just the latest in a series of public and private threats that fit a distinct pattern – one meant to intimidate our reporters and to discourage objective reporting on issues sensitive to the government.”
On Thursday, officials from the Ministry of Defence and Council of Ministers slammed the report, and warned that legal action would be taken if similar lapses of professionalism and ethics continued. They maintained the reporting constituted a threat to national security – a claim rights monitors said was unwarranted and used to justify the intimidation of independent media.
RFA said it had no doubt the warning was intended as a threat.
“As we have said in response to similar threats in the past, RFA will continue to provide the reliable and accurate news and information that our Cambodian listeners seek and deserve, regardless of whether the issue is sensitive to certain political parties or officials.”
Last year RFA, along with other foreign-funded stations, was called into a inter-ministerial meeting and berated by government officials for airing reports that appeared too pro-opposition and anti-government.