The Ministry of Interior on February 25 decided to deport the Chinese owner of online news outlet Angkor Today from Cambodia for publishing “false” reports claiming that the Covid-19 vaccines donated by China were being sold to the public.

Shen Kaidong, 52, was arrested on February 24 in Siem Reap province. According to a press release signed by interior minister Sar Kheng, Shen is also barred from re-entering Cambodia.

General Department of Immigration spokesman Keo Vanthan told The Post: “My department is not punishing this Chinese man in Cambodia, but we are deporting him from the country,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial police investigation bureau chief Touch Sokun confirmed to The Post on February 25 that Shen had operated Angkor Today in the province since 2015.

“[Shen] had published an article at 11pm on February 23 saying Cambodia was selling Covid-19 vaccines. Concerning the arrest, we just cooperated with the immigration department and the suspect was taken to the interior ministry,” he said.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on February 25 issued a letter revoking the licence of Ung Angkea that had authorised Angkor Today’s operations. The licence was issued on August 19, 2015.

The letter said the licensee disseminated fake news that distorted the facts and had malicious intent which affected public health, national security and the Cambodian government’s prestige, causing social chaos, and this altogether constituted a serious violation of the signed contract held by the ministry.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said: “We do not charge people money for Covid-19 vaccines. All vaccinations are voluntary and do not cost anything. Those who belong to the priority groups identified by the government are eligible for vaccination.”