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Watchdog decries website blockage

AN international press freedom group has registered concern over the government’s apparent attempts to block opposition blog KI-Media and other anti-government websites.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the move was part of a worrying trend of online censorship in the Kingdom.

“We are troubled by reports that Cambodia is increasingly curbing online freedom,” Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s Senior Southeast Asia Representative, said in the statement.

“We urge Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to immediately reverse course. The Internet is one of the few spaces left for free expression in Cambodia and that is how it should remain.”

Earlier this month, users of local Internet Service
Providers including WiCam, Ezecom and Metfone reported that they were unable to access Ki-Media. WiCam users briefly received a message stating that the site had been “blocked as ordered by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia”.

MPTC officials initially denied ordering that KI-Media be blocked, though in an email to local ISPs that was leaked earlier this month, Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the Directorate of Telecommunications Policy Regulation at the MPTC, chided several firms that had yet to block KI-Media and other opposition sites and urged them to do so.

KI-Media made the news in December when Seng Kunnaka, a security guard employed by the United Nations World Food Programme, received a six-month jail term for incitement just days after he was arrested for printing out an article from the website and sharing it with co-workers.

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