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9 Apr 2020

Reporters Without Borders

Cambodia: Police & authorities arrest a popular journalist and revoke his media license after he reports direct words of PM responding to Covid-19 measures

"Cambodian reporter jailed for quoting PM’s comment about Covid-19", 8 April 2020

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demands the immediate release of a Cambodian journalist who was arrested … for reporting a comment by Prime Minister Hun Sen about the coronavirus crisis. RSF also calls on the authorities to reinstate the website’s media licence, which has been rescinded.

Sovann Rithy, the director of the TVFB news site, was arrested by the Phnom Penh municipal police yesterday evening on a charge of “incitement to cause chaos and harm social security” under article 495 of the criminal code, police chief Sar Theth said.

His crime was to have reported a comment … that the prime minister made ... As Sovann Rithy accurately reported in a Facebook post, Hun Sen said: “If motorbike-taxi drivers go bankrupt, sell your motorbikes for spending money. The government does not have the ability to help.”

The information ministry reacted by ordering the revocation of TVFB’s media licence on the grounds that its editor had “selected” the prime minister’s quote. Sovann Rithy is due to appear before a municipal court ...

“We call on the Cambodian justice system to put an end to this utterly … case by releasing Sovann Rithy at once, and we call on the government to reinstate TVFB’s media licence,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“Imprisoning a journalist for quoting a statement by the prime minister word for word is more than absurd. The Covid-19 crisis must not be used as pretext for getting rid of journalists who do not blindly toe the government line.”…