Cambodia court extends detention of radio journalists - InfoNews

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Cambodia court extends detention of radio journalists

May 18, 2018 - 3:24 AM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A Cambodian court on Friday extended the pre-trial detention of two Radio Free Asia journalists who have been in prison for six months while espionage charges, which critics say are part of a crushing crackdown on independent media, are investigated.

The journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Socheamet, were arrested in November and charged with undermining Cambodian national security by supplying information to a foreign state.

The charge, which both men deny, has a maximum penalty of 15 years' imprisonment. The two journalists were also later charged with producing pornography after police said they found pornographic images on their computers.

The men's lawyer has said the law allows for them to be released if they haven't been tried within six months.

But a spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Ei Rin, said a judge extended their detention because the investigation isn't complete.

He said their continuing detention is crucial to the investigation but wouldn't elaborate.

The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen and its allies in the judiciary have been clamping down on critics in recent months, shutting more than a dozen radio stations and dissolving the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

In September, U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia's Phnom Penh bureau closed after operating in the Southeast Asian nation for 20 years, citing government intimidation of the media, which it said had reached an "unprecedented level."

The same month, the independent English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily was forced to shut down after being accused of not paying a huge tax bill, a charge it said was politically motivated.

The crackdown is seen as part of the Hun Sen government's effort to neutralize political opponents ahead of a general election this July.

Hun Sen has been in office since 1985 and has held a tight grip on power since ousting a co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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