Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Spy case against RFA journalists is delayed

Spy case against RFA journalists is delayed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Yeang Sothearin (left) and Oun Chhin wave to journalists and supporters as they enter the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Spy case against RFA journalists is delayed

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday held a closed-door hearing with two former RFA reporters regarding whether to extend their pretrial detention, but the decision has been delayed until Friday.

The hearing came after the two journalists were arrested and put in pretrial detention for six months on charges of espionage.

Police arrested former RFA reporters Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin on November 14, and, a few days later, they were charged with espionage for “providing a foreign state with information prejudicial to national defence” and sent to pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison. They were later additionally charged with producing pornography after the authorities said they found pornographic images on their computers.

In the hearing, which lasted for about an hour, the reporters’ defence lawyer argued against the charges and also challenged the date when police say they were officially arrested.

Defence lawyer Keo Vanny said the court should decide now as his clients have been held since November 14, the day when they were arrested, not November 18 when they were sent to custody.

“We request the court not to extend the detention and release my clients because the detention has gone on longer than is legal. If we look back, they’ve been held since November 14, but the prosecutor said it was only from November 18,” Vanny said.

While they were being prepared for transportation back to Prey Sar, Sothearin said they hoped the court will release them on Friday.

“They did not decide today but will do it on Friday, whether to release us or not. We hope that they will release us,” Sothearin said.

Vanny also said that six months is more than enough time for an investigation to be completed.

“It is enough to make a decision and give them freedom. Continuing their detention will not produce any new evidence because the court has already confiscated their phones and computers. My clients also cooperated by giving the police passwords.”

Judge Pich Vichearthor is expected to deliver the decision on Friday.

On Tuesday, a regional NGO, Forum-Asia, called for the charges to be dropped and the duo released.

“Forum-Asia calls on the Government of Cambodia to drop the charges against Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin and release them from such arbitrary detention, especially since six months have passed without any progress,” it said in a press release.

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said