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Court Mulls Bail for Opposition Editor

Phnom Penh Municipal Court is considering a request from the government that a jailed opposition newspaper editor be released on bail, officials said Monday.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said Monday the ministry sent an official letter to Phnom Penh Municipal Court Monday morning requesting the courts release on bail Dam Sith, the editor of Moneasekar Khmer, a daily newspaper aligned with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Dam Sith, a parliamentary candidate for July's election for Phnom Penh, was arrested Sunday and charged with defamation and disinformation for publishing an article that quoted Sam Rainsy implicating Foreign Minsiter Hor Namhong with the Khmer Rogue regime.

Hor Namhong has denied in the past any involvement with the regime during his time as a prisoner at the Boeung Trabek camp in Phnom Penh, which operated between 1975 and 1979.

Dam Sith is currently being held in the capital's Prey Sar prison.

Lao Mong Hay, a researcher at the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, said the arrest was a violation of press law, and he appealed to the courts to drop the charges against him. Dam Sith had only quoted the words of Sam Rainsy, Lao Mong Hay said.

Phnom Penh Judge Chhay Kong said Monday he had received the ministry letter this morning and was considering a release on bail.

Dam Sith's attorney, Choung Choungy, said Monday he was surprised that the ministry had sent a letter to the court and said his client was clear of any wrongdoing. He had only quoted from Sam Rainsy's speech, the attorney said.