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US-Funded News Agency Not ‘Anti-Cambodian,’ Embassy Spokesman Says

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh told VOA Khmer in an interview Friday the US would continue to monitor the situation.

PHNOM PENH - Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America are not in place to be “anti-Cambodian” or to support the opposition, a US Embassy official said Friday.

Reporters from both US-funded agencies were called into a government meeting earlier this week to discuss “cooperation” and to defend their reporting, in a closed-door meeting with a number of government officials from a range of ministries.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the oversight body for both agencies, condemned the meeting as “a blatant attempt to discourage objective reporting on the Cambodian government.”

US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh told VOA Khmer in an interview Friday the US would continue to monitor the situation. He urged the Cambodian government to protect the freedoms of speech and the press.

“US funding of Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America is not anti-Cambodian, and this is not to support the opposition,” he said. “It is to support the provision of objective news material to the Cambodian people.”

In its own statement following the meeting, RFA called the summons “nothing more than a blatant attempt to discourage objective reporting on the government.”

“RFA will continue to report on any and all stories of public interest and concern in an accurate and objective fashion,” the agency said in a statement. “The Cambodian government clearly does not understand the principles of a free press or the important role of independent media if it thinks it can intimidate RFA and dictate what we can or cannot report on. We stand by our stories and our reporters.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan has said the meeting was meant to remind the agencies of their mission statements and to ensure they were maintaining professionalism.

Phay Siphan told VOA Khmer on Friday the government has no plans to take “immediate action” against the two news agencies.
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