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Journalist called to court over extortion

Journalist called to court over extortion

Siem Reap province
A JOURNALIST accused of extorting money from a wood vendor has been summoned to appear at Siem Reap provincial court today for questioning.

Phlong Ret, a former journalist for the local newspaper Ta Prohm, was summoned to court after a complaint letter was submitted by Chan Bol, a wood warehouse owner in Varin district.

The complaint letter accuses Phlong Ret of attempting to extort 100,000 riels (US$24) from Chan Bol in December 2008 in exchange for not printing a story accusing Chan Bol of illegal logging.

Phlong Ret said yesterday that he was innocent, and that the complaint was an attempt at revenge after he included a photograph of a truck transporting illegal wood while being escorted by a military vehicle.

“I will show up at court [today], though I do not have a lawyer,” he said, and added that he had asked for assistance from the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project.

“I hope the investigating judge does not use the complaint which stems from anger to persecute me.”

Investigating judge Hok Pov said he could not comment until he finished questioning the journalist.

“I cannot predict the outcome beforehand,” he said.

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