Phnom Penh Deputy Police Chief Sim Vuthy says two former Radio Free Asia reporters, detained on Tuesday, will be sent to the municipal court tomorrow to face "espionage charges".
Vuthy confirmed that the police were looking to charge the pair, Oun Chhin and Yeang Socheameta, under Article 445 of the Criminal Code for providing "a foreign state with information which undermines national defence". The charge carries a prison sentence of seven to 15 years.
The two were first arrested on Tuesday for allegedly running a karaoke production studio illegally, but Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak later confirmed that they were being investigated for allegedly setting up a broadcast studio for RFA, an accusation the men denied.
"It could be providing information from inside the country to abroad without permission and illegally," he said at the time.
The US-funded radio broadcaster shuttered its in-country operations in September after a government crackdown on independent radio stations broadcasting their programming made it “impossible” for them to continue in the Kingdom. However, it continues to publish stories on Cambodia and broadcasts shows online from Washington, DC, by relying on “networks of trusted sources inside the country”.
RFA has said that it no longer has any ties to the two journalists, and that they were not working on its behalf.