Cambodia: Radio station owner arrested for allegedly spreading fake news

Sok Oudom, the owner of Rithysen radio station and website, was arrested and charged with broadcasting false news on a local land dispute in Kampong Chhnang, central Cambodia. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) regrets the arrest and calls for Sok Oudom’s immediate release.

Credit:IFJ

Authorities in Kampong Chhnang charged Oudom on May 14 under Article 495 of the Criminal Code for a story published on May 12, accusing the report of inciting villagers to encroach on state land in the Aural Wildlife Sanctuary. Oudom faces between six months and two years in prison and fined one million to four million riel (US$250 to US$1,000) if found guilty.

As the investigation continues, the prosecutor and the Kompong Chhnang provincial police chief have not provided specific details of the crime.

The licenses of Rithysen radio and website have also been revoked for allegedly inciting ‘violence’ and ‘chaos’ which, the Ministry of Information has warned, violates the license terms. The radio station, known for its reports on local disputes, was granted an operating  license in 2014 and the news website has operated since 2018.

Press freedom in Cambodia continues to deteriorate due to the ongoing arrest and harassment of journalists, and the shutdown of independent media. IFJ has launched a monitoring and advocacy campaign page to raise awareness and solidarity to promote press freedom and the people’s right to know in Cambodia.

The IFJ said: “IFJ condemns the ongoing arrest of journalists. Sok Oudom is one of at least a dozen of journalists who have been summoned and questioned for doing their jobs. Authorities in Cambodia must recognise the role of journalists in providing information in the public’s interest.  IFJ demands authorities drop all charges against these journalists and release them immediately.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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