Prime Minister Hun Sen has claimed that the media is a “double-edged sword” that “could destroy the nation” in a letter to a Cambodian media forum.
In the letter to the Cambodian Editors Forum, which was held on Friday, Hun Sen said that freedom of the press in Cambodia had allowed the sector to flourish.
“Now there are many outlets, both national and international, that operate in Cambodia,” he said.
“We also know that the media is a double-edged sword. If it is used professionally and lawfully, the media can absolutely promote democracy, human rights, political stability, and development. But if it is straying beyond the lines, it will destroy everyone and the country will fall into war,” he added.
“The government will not allow it to be used to violate the law for a color revolution to topple the Cambodian government.”
Since September, the Cambodian media have come under pressure from the government, which has handed large tax bills to several outlets, which dispute the charges, while more than a dozen independent radio stations have been shuttered.
Hun Sen’s government has also jailed the leader of the opposition on treason charges for his alleged involvement in a U.S.-backed plot to upend his rule, while the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the country’s main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, should be disbanded.
Two staffers from Radio Free Asia, which closed its Phnom Penh bureau following what it said was a sustained campaign to force its closure, were detained at a guest house on November 14 and charged with “supplying information to foreigners”.
Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.