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Former RFA Journalists Appeal for Spying Case to Be Dropped


Former Radio Free Asia journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin are seen talking on their cell phone after being released on bail in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 21, 2018. (Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer)

The former RFA reporters were held without charge for 48 hours after their arrest, they told the court, which broke the law.

Two former Radio Free Asia journalists who were jailed in November on espionage charges have appealed to have their case dropped following their release on bail last month.

The Supreme Court is due to announce a verdict in the case on Monday.

Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were charged with providing information to a foreign state and undermining national defense. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

Their arrests came amid a slew of cases filed against members of Cambodia’s former main opposition party, civil society groups, and independent media outlets.

Chhin told reporters that his family members were struggling financially in his absence and that police had confiscated his filming equipment, making it impossible for him to gain freelance work.

The former RFA reporters were held without charge for 48 hours after their arrest, they told the court, which broke the law.

“It’s a big injustice for us and the charge put us in jail for more than nine months, causing us physical and mental difficulties, separating us from our families,” Chhin said.

Keo Vany, the reporters’ lawyer, argued that their arrest should be revoked because police had improperly detained them without charge.

“What’s important in this case is the violation of procedure. The police in Phnom Penh violated their procedures to detain my clients over the time limited [by the law],” he said.

“In principle, the law permits [officials] to make an arrest for only 48 hours. Beyond this, the suspects have to be sent to the prosecutors. But in reality, the authorities arrested and detained them for more than ... 50 hours. So their arrest was over 20 hours without written permission from the prosecutors,” he said.

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