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Out on Bail, Editor Vows Same Coverage

Opposition editor Dam Sith vowed on Monday to continue critical coverage of the government following his release on bail Sunday, with defamation and disinformation charges still pending.

Dam Sith, who is the defendant in a suit led by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, was jailed for a week and became the center of debate over media freedom and pre-election intimidation.

The editor said Monday his stance was the same and his newspaper was publishing as it did before, criticizing the government on corruption issues and standing for the opposition party.

Dam Sith was released following an official request from Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered to Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Chhay Kong Saturday.

In an interview with VOA Khmer Monday, Dam Sith said he was thankful to Hun Sen, but he said, "My newspaper will never change. We will always publish criticism of the government."

The newspaper, Moneaksekar Khmer, was established Aug. 4, 1994, and has continuously supported the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, Dam Sith said. The black-and-white paper is a daily publication of four pages, one broadsheet folded in half.

The arrest of Dam Sith was part of a long line of intimidation and threats, said Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Ieng.

Opposition journalists always receive threats, he said, and over the years at least one has been killed.

Nun Chan, editor-in-chief of the opposition paper Serei Pheap Thmei, or New Freedom, was shot dead in 1995.