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Article

6 Oct 2020

Author:
Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentence a journalist to 18 months imprisonment for reporting quotes of PM responding to COVID-19 responses

"Journalist handed 18-month sentence for incitement", 5 October 2020

The director of online news outlet TVFB was sentenced to 18 months in prison … after he reported on advice from Prime Minister Hun Sen to motorbike taxi drivers, telling them to sell their vehicles if the Covid-19 crisis is causing them financial distress.

TVFB Director Sovann Rithy was arrested for incitement in Sen Sok district … over a post on his personal Facebook profile in which he quoted Hun Sen as saying during a press conference: “If motorbike-taxi drivers go bankrupt, sell your motorbikes for spending money. The government does not have the ability to help.”

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Li Sokha … 5 handed the defendant 18-month sentence, the remainder of which has been suspended after six months served in pre-trial detention, according to court spokesman Kuch Kimlong said.

… While sitting in the courthouse, Rithy and his relatives declined to comment because Rithy was ill. “He has a sore throat,” said one woman who claimed to be a relative but declined to give her name or the name of the journalist’s lawyer…

“Mr. Sovann Rithy had just carried out his role as a journalist by quoting a speech from a reliable source,” Nop Vy, executive director of CamboJA, said in the statement. “Convicting the journalist under the Criminal Code is a threat meant to instill fear in other journalists, and shows that the Law on the Press is not being used as it was intended.”…

CamboJA also called on the Information Ministry to restore TVFB’s media license, which was terminated shortly after Rithy’s arrest, …

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