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Cambodian Prime Minister Criticizes VOA, Radio Free Asia

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday sharply criticized Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, saying their news reports are "very inferior."

He accused the two broadcasters, both funded by the U.S. government under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, of distorting information, or containing "zero" information.

The prime minister made the comments in response to a question by a VOA Khmer Service journalist at a news conference in Cambodia. The question was about the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and Mr. Hun Sen said it was not among the topics to be covered by the news conference, which followed a meeting of his cabinet and was chiefly dominated by questions about Cambodia's border dispute with Thailand.

Mr. Hun Sen praised Radio France International and offered to hire Cambodian staff at VOA and RFA to work at Cambodian news stations.

VOA responded to the prime minister's comments by saying, "VOA journalists around the world, including those covering developments in Cambodia, adhere to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy and objectivity, standards mandated by U.S. law."

The Cambodian government has opposed increasing the number of cases heard by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, a joint Cambodia and international court that is trying leaders of the Khmer Rouge, which ruled the country in the late 1970s. More than a million people died under the Khmer Rouge - many of them starved or worked to death, and others executed.

One person has been convicted by the tribunal and four others are being prosecuted. The government says adding more cases could be harmful to national stability.

VOA provides news in more than 40 languages via shortwave and FM radio, television, satellite and the Internet. RFA provides news to Asia.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors also oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.