PHNOM PENH - Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the arrest of Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando would not lead to the closure of the station, but he also said a thumbprint petition drive by his supporters would not lead to his release from jail, where he awaits trial on charges related to sedition.
Beehive carries programming from the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio France International, as well as smaller political groups not aligned with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Mam Sonando was arrested in mid-July and accused of leading a secessionist movement in Kratie province after villagers there violently protested a land seizure.
His supporters have gathered more than 50,000 thumbprint signatures calling for his release, which they submitted to Western embassies.
In a speech at the graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education, Hun Sen called the petition “useless.”
“I don’t care how many thumbprints there are, it is not of value with a court case,” he said. Beehive Radio would not be closed, he said. “The radio was not wrong. Don’t be angry with the ox and then hit the cart. Don’t be stupid.”
Rights workers say they fear the radio station, one of the few remaining independent broadcast media outlets in the country, could face closure as Mam Sonando’s case continues.