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Leading Editor Cautiously Lauds Media Environment

A leading newspaper editor cautiously praised Cambodia’s media environment Monday, saying the press is faced with “legal action” but not “violence” as in other countries.

Pen Samithy, editor-in-chief of the Reaksmey Kampuchea, a leading daily newspaper, was reacting to the closing of Moneaksekar Khmer, an opposition paper, after its editor was charged with defamation.

“The situation today is that some newspapers are getting sued and some journalists are in jail, and some are solving their own issues,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

While Dam Sith, editor of Moneaksekar Khmer, was able to avoid potential jail time by closing his opposition-aligned newspaper, following defamation and incitement accusations by the government, one of his colleagues, Hang Chakra, chief of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, is serving a 12-month prison sentence on similar charges.

Pen Samithy said that all countries, including the US, have defamation cases, so a journalist must be independent and cautious with the dignity of people.

The editor acknowledged regret that the murderers of another opposition journalist, Khim Sambo, who was gunned down ahead of the 2008 general election, have not been caught—the 11th killing of a journalist to go unsolved since 1994.

Meanwhile, Cambodian media suffers a ranking of “not free,” according to the global media monitor Freedom House.