The Supreme Court on October 28 returned the passport of former RFA reporter Yeang Sothearin, also known as Yeang Socheameta. The decision will pave the way for him to travel from Cambodia to Khmer Kampuchea Krom in South Vietnam to visit his sister who is seriously ill, and his elderly parents.
The Phnom Penh municipal court charged Yeang Sothearin with “Provision of Information Undermining National Defence to a Foreign State” in 2017. The 34-year-old, from Khmer Kampuchea Krom, had his passport revoked by the court and was placed under court supervision.
At an October 26 court hearing, Yeang Sothearin asked that the judge return his passport so he could apply for a visa to visit his family.
At the hearing, he said that he would visit Kampuchea Krom, his homeland. In order for the court to trust him, he asked the judge to impose conditions on his passport, barring him from leaving Kampuchea Krom for a third country. He told the judge that he had not visited his homeland for more than five years.
Kong Srim, president of the Supreme Court Chamber, returned the passport, on the grounds that the accused had fully cooperated with the court in every procedure, and because his older sister was seriously ill. He promised to appear in court whenever he was summoned.
Srim warned him that he breached the conditions of his passport being returned to him, he may face another jail sentence.
Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that the Supreme Court’s decision to return the passport would make it possible for him to visit his family members.
She hoped that the court would drop the charges against Yeang Sothearin, and his colleague Uon Chhin.
Former RFA reporters Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin were arrested in November 2017 on charges of the “Provision of Information Undermining National Defence to a Foreign State. They were later on released on bail and placed under court supervision.