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Security Forces Detain Former Radio Free Asia Reporters for ‘Attempting to Send News to the United States’


Former Radio Free Asia reporters Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin. (Courtesy of Comfrel)

Following the closure of RFA’s office in Phnom Penh, the information ministry warned its former staff that they would be arrested if they continued to report from Cambodia.

Two former Radio Free Asia reporters were detained on Tuesday for allegedly using a guesthouse to attempt to transmit reports to the United States.

The U.S.-funded broadcaster closed its bureau in Cambodia in September amid what it called a “relentless crackdown” by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s regime against independent media.

Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were detained at the Marady guesthouse in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.

The former RFA staffers reportedly denied the allegations.

Sothearin told journalists before being transferred to a police station on Wednesday morning that he was innocent. “I am innocent and what I have done is not wrong and I have not sent news abroad,” he said.

Chhin also rejected the allegations as false. “I just wanted to open a business to make karaoke songs and videos, but I have not done anything yet,” he said.

Following the closure of RFA’s office in Phnom Penh, the information ministry warned its former staff that they would be arrested if they continued to report from Cambodia.

Sim Vuthy, local deputy police chief, said the authorities had evidence that the pair had sent information to the United States, but declined to comment further.

“We are checking because we see the materials and studio which is organized to live broadcast Radio Free Asia,” he said. “So it’s wrong.”

An RFA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for local rights group Adhoc said the arrests “impacts their profession.”

“They also face challenges working and have their rights limited.”

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