Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - RFA journo rubbishes spy claims



RFA journo rubbishes spy claims

RFA presenter Chun Chanboth hosts a news broadcast in March. Facebook
RFA presenter Chun Chanboth hosts a news broadcast in March. The radio personality told the Post that accusations he was a government spy or meeting military officials without the consent of the US-based broadcaster were ridiculous. Facebook

RFA journo rubbishes spy claims

Embattled Radio Free Asia journalist Chun Chanboth has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked conversation with General Mao Sophan while contesting the skewed interpretation of the recordings by government mouthpiece Fresh News and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Since early March, short clips of Chanboth’s 2017 meeting with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces general have been trickling out on Fresh News in an attempt, Chanboth believes, to paint him as a Cambodian government spy.

While Chanboth on Saturday confirmed the authenticity of the leaks, released as of Sunday in five short clips, he said that they had been spliced in sections.

Speaking to The Post in Australia, Chanboth said he had met with Sophan during a March 2017 trip and was aware the conversation was being recorded on four devices. He added that Fresh News’ contention that Chanboth was worried he would be killed by the US Central Intelligence Agency was untrue.

“The conversation goes like this – Mao Sophan told me that the Prime Minister [Hun Sen] was very concerned about my safety and they begged me to get the bodyguard arranged by the premier and Mao Sophan,” he said, adding he rejected the offer.

According to Chanboth, Sophan was a journalistic source and had in the past provided him with information, including transcripts of leaked audio recordings involving opposition politicians.

“Anything . . . that he would send to Prime Minister Hun Sen, he would send to me immediately. So he is a very very good source, an inside source actually,” he said.

Another Fresh News leak suggested that Chanboth was anti-opposition because he and Kem Ley believed former opposition leader Sam Rainsy would be more dictatorial in power than Hun Sen.

Chanboth said this came up in the conversation only because Sophan had accused RFA of not being independent. In response, he pointed to past broadcasts in which guests, in this case Ley, had criticised the opposition.

During his visit to Cambodia in 2017, Chanboth was accused of trying to sneak into Prey Sar prison and fled the country ahead of an arrest warrant.

Since then, he has been targeted in what appears to be a coordinated smear campaign against him. On top of the video clips, Fresh News also leaked a screenshot on March 18 of a WhatsApp conversation between Chanboth and Hun Manet, Hun Sen’s eldest son, alleging the former wanted to meet the premier on the sidelines of an Asean meeting last month.

“In fact it was Hun Manet who asked me to see his dad,” he said. “It was just a source trying to get [Manet’s] father for the interview. [He is] nothing else than a source.”

General Mao Sophan and Ratha Visal, a disgruntled ex-RFA staffer who has pushed pro-government media’s version of events, could not be reached on Sunday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian