More than 10 family members and supporters of detained alleged filmmaker Rath Rott Mony gathered outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Phnom Penh for a third time on Wednesday, reiterating calls for his release.
The group had initially submitted a petition to the embassy on December 18 calling for its support and that of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rott Mony, the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation president, was arrested on December 7 by Thai police for his alleged role as a producer of the controversial documentary, My Mother Sold Me, that was aired in October by Russian state news network RT.
It is alleged that a woman featured in the documentary, which was investigating human trafficking in the Kingdom, was wrongly accused by the film of attempting to sell her daughter’s virginity.
Thai police arrested and deported Rott Mony on December 12 at the request of Cambodian authorities. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court then ordered his detention the following day under Article 496 of the Criminal Code.
Rott Mony claims he was only an intermediary and translator for the film.
If convicted, he faces one to three years in prison and a fine of two to four million riel ($500-$1,000).
Rott Mony’s wife, Long Kimheang, told The Post on Wednesday: “I protested demanding the Russian embassy’s intervention to release my husband from prison.
“I will keep protesting because the Russian government should ensure RT is able to report its films in a professional manner."
“The Cambodian government arrested and imprisoned a translator. The Russian government should intervene to free the translator from prison because it is its obligation . . . The [film] did not make false claims about sex trafficking in Cambodia.”
Former Boeung Kak activist Kim Touch, who joined the protest on Wednesday, also told The Post that the Russian government is obligated to help free Rott Mony.
“Rott Mony was merely a translator but he was imprisoned, which is unfair. RT is a Russian-controlled media company, so the Russian government is responsible,” she said.
Touch said they would continue to protest in front of the embassy every week if the Russians failed to intervene.
Soeung Sen Karuna, the spokesman and senior investigating officer for rights group Adhoc, also said the Russian government was obliged to intervene: “RT, a Russian media company, was the publisher and has responsibility for [the film’s] content, meaning and images.”
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Rott Mony had not been convicted and is only a suspect.
“It is the court’s right [to make a decision], not the work of the ministry. He is just a suspect, so he should find a lawyer to solve his problem,” Sopheak said.