The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand is dismayed by the arrest and prosecution in Cambodia of two unemployed journalists for alleged international espionage.
Former Radio Free Asia (RFA) Khmer Service reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were arrested on Nov. 14 for running an unlicensed karaoke studio. They were subsequently accused of setting up a studio for RFA, and charged with "illegally collecting information for a foreign source [sic]". This carries a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The arrests follow a concerted government campaign against the independent media in Cambodia in recent months that has included the forced closure of the Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper, and the cessation of RFA operations.
The Phnom Penh municipal court prosecutor and investigating judge were petitioned on Nov. 19 by 60 journalists in Cambodia to drop the case against the former RFA journalists. The petition noted that the Cambodian constitution guarantees freedom of the press, and is therefore being openly flouted.
The professional membership of the FCCT supports all calls for the immediate release of Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who were deprived first of their livelihoods and then of their liberty.
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