A Kampong Chhnang provincial judge on Thursday ordered the detention of two journalists and charged them with “public defamation and blackmail” of an “Oknha”, according to court spokesperson Chhuon Sivin.
The two suspects were identified as Ngin Veasna, 48, editor-in-chief of the Kraing Meas website and his colleague Touch Din, 51. The two were arrested on Wednesday by provincial judicial police.
Sivin told The Post on Thursday that the two suspects published accusations that Oknha Tea Vichet, who is the CEO of GTVC Speed Boat, had smuggled goods without paying taxes and with the backing of powerful people.
He said Veasna was ordered to correct the story because it contained false information that damaged Vichet’s reputation. “But Ngin Veasna did not agree to [correct the story], unless he was paid.
“He demanded he was given $2,800 or bought a drone to use for his work. If he was given what he asked for, he said he would agree to correct the article,” Sivin said.
Kampong Chhnang provincial Military Police deputy commander Hang Socheat told The Post on Thursday that Military Police arrested the two suspects following a complaint from Vichet’s lawyer over the publication of “fake news” and the suspects’ demand for $2,800.
“They ordered the suspects to correct the news story, but they didn’t follow that order. Then they ordered them to drop the article, but the suspects didn’t drop it."
“Finally the suspects said they would remove the story if they were paid $2,800 or in exchange for a drone. The suspects defamed the reputation of a high-level leader,” Socheat said.
He said that following their arrest, the suspects were sent to the provincial court.
Vichet could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Local media said a Kampong Chhnang provincial Military Police officer named Lim Hak claimed that the provincial Military Police arrested Veasna and his colleague because Vichet’s lawyer had accused them of public defamation and financial extortion.
Hak said Veasna and his colleague wrote and published an article accusing Vichet of smuggling petrol into Preah Sihanouk province.