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Relatives of RFA journos questioned

Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin appear at the Appeal Court in December, where their bail application was denied.
Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin appear at the Appeal Court in December, where their bail application was denied. Kim Sarom

Relatives of RFA journos questioned

The defence lawyer for two former Radio Free Asia reporters detained for alleged “espionage” said yesterday that the court had questioned their relatives as witnesses to prove their innocence.

Yeang Sothearin and Oun Chhin were arrested in November on suspicion of sending news stories to the US-funded broadcaster following its closure during a crackdown on independent media outlets. They were charged with providing “a foreign state with information which undermines national defence”.

The duo’s lawyer, Keo Vanny, said he interviewed Sothearin’s wife and children on January 23. He had put in a request to interview three members of Chhin’s family as well, who were expected to appear on the same day but were unable to go to court.

Vanny said he would present five witnesses to show that the former reporters were not guilty of espionage.

The duo were arrested for allegedly setting up a recording studio to provide RFA with local news stories, after the State-Department funded broadcaster shut down its in-country operations following a protracted dispute with the government.

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