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Envoy to UK lashes out at FT coverage

Envoy to UK lashes out at FT coverage

CAMBODIA'S ambassador to the United Kingdom has again taken up his pen to fend off foreign criticism, writing to the editor of the Financial Times to protest its recent coverage of defamation lawsuits against government opponents.

"Your correspondent seems unable to distinguish between government's policies and voluntary activity conducted by some people affected by the syndrome of 'martyrdom'," Ambassador Hor Nambora wrote to Editor Lionel Barber Monday, defending the government's string of defamation suits.

The article, by FT reporter Tim Johnston, echoed previous allegations that the courts are being used to "muzzle" government critics, citing the cases of publisher Hang Chakra, lawmaker Mu Sochua and civil society figure Moeung Sonn.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, described the remarks as "childish", and cited earlier statements by Hor Nambora calling for donors to withdraw funding from NGO Global Witness, which has criticised government corruption.

"That's to be expected. He doesn't understand the role of government and the role of NGOs," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Hor Nambora spoke on behalf of the government, adding that freedom of expression is clearly defined in Cambodian law.

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