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Dispute over number held for disseminating fake news

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According to a Facebook post by NGO Licadho, several Cambodians have been arrested for sharing rumours on social media, even if they shared the information through private messages. Police

Dispute over number held for disseminating fake news

THE National police told The Post that nine people were sent to court for sharing fake news about Covid-19 infections, while NGO Licadho claimed 19 people were arrested, 13 of whom were released.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Tuesday that it is on the hunt for one more person involved in sharing fake news.

On Monday, Licadho posted on Facebook that several Cambodians had been arrested for sharing rumours on social media, even if they shared the information through private messages.

According to the Facebook post, the users either pledged to stop spreading “government-labelled” fake news or were charged and sent to pre-trial detention.

“From January 30 until now, we have found 19 cases. Among them, six suspects were detained and 13 others were released,” said Am Sam Ath, the deputy director of monitoring at Licadho. He said all six accused were former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) activists.

Sam Ath said the cloud of uncertainty over Covid-19 has led some to post their theories online. Sometimes, such theories could be considered fake news and deemed a threat to society.

“These arrests could be construed as restricting freedom of expression. This is not a good option. The good thing to do would be to educate people about Covid-19 with real information. Make sure that they understand, so they can cooperate in preventing its spread,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Tuesday that the suspects were sent to court for further legal action. Sopheak referred to them as opportunists taking advantages of the outbreak to promote their political party and criticise the government.

“Everyone is worried and cooperating to prevent this virus, [but] these people took the opportunity to promote propaganda, so let’s give the court the privilege of making a decision,” he said.

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