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Bail hearing set for jailed RFA reporters

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
The two reporters were arrested at a hotel. KT/Mai Vireak

The Supreme Court has scheduled a bail hearing for two former reporters with Radio Free Asia, who remain jailed on espionage charges for allegedly sending reports to the United States.

The former reporters, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Marady Hotel on November 14 and accused of espionage.

They are currently being detained at Prey Sar prison pending their trial.

Ouk Kimsith, deputy prosecutor general of the Supreme Court, said a bail hearing for the pair has been set for March 16.

In December, the Court of Appeal denied bail for the two reporters, who face up to 15 years in prison after being arrested with broadcasting equipment authorities say was being used to make reports to the United States.

Keo Vanny, a defence lawyer for the reporters, said his clients were innocent and should be granted bail next week as they pose no threat outside of jail. “Over the past three or four months, further investigation by authorities has not resulted in any concrete evidence against my clients,” he said.

Mr Vanny added that his clients would continue to make their court appearances while on bail and would not flee the country.

Local journalists have launched an online campaign calling on the court to drop the charges.

In an open letter, dozens of Cambodian journalists said that charges have hampered free press within the country and that a free press is a cornerstone to any democratic society.

Phnom Penh deputy police chief Sim Vuthy said after the arrests that the reporters were continuing to make reports to RFA in the US after its operations within the country were closed.

“They can face the charge of supplying a foreign state with information prejudicial to national defence,” he said at the time.

RFA had earlier shuttered its operations within the country as the government cracked down on multiple media organisations for not complying with tax laws and Information Ministry registration laws.

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