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Publisher's note to readers

Publisher's note to readers

S INCE the announcement by the Ministry of Information (MOI) that a complaint had

been lodged against me for an article we ran entitled "Security jitters while

PMs away," written by Nate Thayer (PPPost: March 24, l995), our office has

received dozens of inquiries from around the world and here in Cambodia on the

situation vis-a-vis this case.

For readers who may not have seen any of

the various news stories, the situation - in brief - is as follows:

The

initial public announcement was made by the MOI on August 24.

According

to an MOI spokesman, Leng Sochea, the government has filed a complaint with the

municipal court asking them to press criminal charges against me, as publisher

of the PPPost, for disinformation, incitement and creating insecurity and

instability.

If tried and convicted, I could be fined and possibly

jailed. As well, the PPPost could be closed down permanently.

Government

lawyer Kao Bun Hong, on behalf of the two Prime Ministers, filed the complaint

in a letter dated April 21, although it is not known when the court officially

received the letter. A court official has said a judge is investigating the case

to decide whether to press charges under Article 62 - dis-information - of the

UNTAC Press Law.

Under current Cambodian law the court has six months to

review the case and decide whether this or other charges will be brought against

me, or none at all.

As a part of the court's investigation into the case

I can be called in to answer questions before a final decision is made on

prosecution.

To date, I have not been officially notified in writing by

the court that the investigation is proceeding or that I will be summoned to

answer questions, or whether or not I will be prosecuted.

I'm pleased to

note with gratitude that in a faxed response to a letter of concern about this

situation from Julio Jeldres, H.M. King Norodom Sihanouk wrote on August 25 that

while he could not change the course of the case, His Majesty "shall, however,

have the right and the duty to grant an amnesty to the journalists sentenced."

In a meeting I had with Kao Bun Hong on September 2, I was told that the

government wanted to know who the unnamed sources were cited in the

story.

According to the recently passed press law, which was signed into

law by Assembly President and Acting Head of State Chea Sim on August 31,

journalists are protected by law from having to reveal their sources.

In

the absence of any official written notification on this case from either the

government or the court, I have been refraining from making any statements to

the press except to say that I stand behind the accuracy of the story in

question.

Readers will be kept abreast of any significant developments

regarding this case. Many, many, many thanks to all those, both within the RGC

and without, who have expressed their support in the last two

weeks.

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