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16 Jul 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Battambang Court charge a journalist with incitement after his comments on govt.'s COVID-19 measures

"Online journalist charged with the incitement after criticizing Chinese vaccines", 16 July 2021

An online news journalist in Battambang province was arrested and charged with incitement to commit a felony this week after publicly criticizing the government’s use of Chinese-made vaccines to inoculate the population against COVID-19. The arrest brings the number of journalists arrested … for their reporting about the government’s response to the pandemic to four.

Provincial court spokeswoman Chea Chanreaksmey confirmed that Kao Piseth, 32, was charged and sent to pre-trial detention ... Piseth, the Battambang correspondent for Siem Reap-based publication Siem Reap Tannhektar (Breaking News), was arrested on Wednesday on allegations of incitement and obstructing the implementation of Ministry of Health measures…

Piseth’s Facebook’s account has since been deleted from social media, but screenshots of his social media posts have been published by local online outlet Koh Santepheap Daily…

Ith Sothoeuth, media director at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, expressed concern that the government was continuing to silence critical voices. He urged authorities to thoroughly investigate alleged wrongdoing before arresting reporters…

“I think that arresting a journalist does not just threaten press freedom but also intimidates the public in their involvement in freedom of expression, especially through social media,” he said.

Information Ministry spokesman Meas Sophorn said that the ministry will further investigate whether Piseth had committed his alleged wrongdoing as an individual or with the involvement of his media organisation, noting that the news site was legitimately registered with the ministry…