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Reporters Harassed, Threatened by Siem Reap Official

A group of reporters, including a man from Radio Free Asia, was threatened Thursday by a district governor, a journalist said Thursday.

Reporters had been observing a demonstration calling for the removal of the principal and vice principal of Dom Dek High School in Siem Reap, Mak Samphea, governor of Soth Nikum district, arrived.

The district governor threatened to arrest anyone jeopardizing public security, including teachers and journalists, Sav Yuth, a reporter for Radio Free Asia, told VOA Khmer.

Mak Samphea also asked his bodyguards to confiscate Sav Yuth's identification card, to make photocopies.

Mak Samphea declined to comment on the confrontation, which took place on World Press Freedom Day and underscored the often-cantankerous relationship government officials have with journalists.

Cambodian press was recently ranked "partly free" by the Freedom House organization, which issued an annual report Tuesday. The designation was an improvement over 2006's classification, "not free."

"Attacks on the press have declined significantly in recent years," the group said, "although several cases of harassment and threats were reported in 2006."

An Information Ministry official told VOA Khmer that the district governor's actions were "wrong."

The demonstrators were protesting the alleged beating of a fellow student in March by Dom Dek High School staff.