Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-RFA reporters summonsed to court over ongoing detention

Ex-RFA reporters summonsed to court over ongoing detention

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former RFA reporter Yeang Sothearin leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being questioned in March. Pha Lina

Ex-RFA reporters summonsed to court over ongoing detention

Two former Radio Free Asia journalists have been summonsed to appear in court on May 16, likely to review the extension of their six-month detention which has seen human rights groups calling for their “unconditional release”, while government officials think such calls violate court procedure.

Former journalists Yeang Sothearin and Oun Chhin were arrested on November 14, 2017, and sent to court to face charges of espionage four days later. They were then sent to pretrial detention.

No trial date has been set. RFA shut down its operation in Cambodia in September 2017.

Defence lawyer Keo Vanny told The Post on Sunday that “the municipal court called me to appear on May 16 with the two clients”. “We’re reaching the end of their six-month pretrial detention,” he said. “If they don’t have enough evidence, they should close the investigation and release them.”

However, he said, the court can decide to further extend their detention for another six months.

In a statement released by Human Rights Watch on Sunday, Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said the charges against them should be dropped immediately and called the arrest part of an “ongoing crackdown on the media, civil society groups, and political opposition.”

“Ahead of July’s national elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen has been filling Cambodia’s prisons with journalists, activists, and politicians,” said Adams. “In its reprisals against RFA for its critical reporting, the government has concocted absurd espionage charges against former journalists Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who should be freed immediately.”

Chin Malin, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, denounced the statement by HRW, saying “it’s not strange that they accuse the government illegally”.

“Their charges are under investigating procedure. How can the government release them? We cannot put pressure on the court,” he said. “If HRW wants to help the two, they should join in the court’s procedure . . . they can find good lawyers to defend the case.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said