FM radio director arrested for alleged defamation in Cambodia

October 13, 2005

FM radio director arrested for alleged defamation

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, has condemned the arrest of a radio director in Cambodia on charges of defamation against Cambodia’s Prime Minister.

On October 11, director of Beehive Radio FM 105, Mam Sonando, was arrested at his house in Kandal province by municipal police for alleged defamation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

According to IFJ sources, Mam Sonando’s arrest order was instigated after the September 20 broadcast of an interview with the director of a border community, Seng Peng Ser, about a border treaty with Vietnam.

“It is very worrying that these charges have been brought against Mam Sonando. Defamation is being misused by authorities at all levels in Cambodia to intimidate and punish journalists, and silence the free press,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

“Authorities cannot allow defamation against journalists to become a weapon of silence. The role of the free press will be significantly weakened in Cambodia if this pattern of defamation cases continues,” said the IFJ President.

Information Minster, Khieu Khanarith, said the arrest was made because Sonando had not presented the government’s side of the story.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Vietnam on October 10 to negotiate a supplementary treaty with Vietnam, and Sonando claims he planned to interview Prime Minister Hun Sen on his return.

Sonando said he had no intention of insulting the Prime Minister and said the radio station would continue to broadcast normally despite his arrest.

Mam Sonando is currently being held at Peysar, 15 kilometres from Phnom Pehn.

The IFJ calls on Cambodian authorities to drop the defamation charges against Mam Sonando and immediately release him from detention.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 (0) 411 757 668.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries