A lawyer representing rights group Adhoc will seek bail for Rath Rott Mony, a news fixer who was charged with incitement to discriminate over his involvement in the production of a Russia Today sex trafficking documentary dismissed as “fake news” government.
Mr Rott Mony aided the production of “My Mother Sold Me” and was placed in pre-trial detention on December 13 after being charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Mr Rott Mony and his family had briefly fled to Thailand in order to seek asylum in the Netherlands before Thai officials detained and deported him back to Cambodia.
Sam Titseyha, the lawyer, yesterday said he will begin the bail process today, noting that he has strong evidence to support Mr Rott Mony’s claim of innocence.
“My client had done all the right steps as a news fixer – he helped the RT team to inform relevant officials. I have obtained all of these documents,” he said. “I also have the agreements between Mr Rott Mony and the three main sources in the film to prove that he did not manipulate the facts.”
Mr Titseyha said authorities must consider the reality of Cambodia’s sex industry, noting that the documentary aims to raise awareness for the protection of young girls.
“My client had no intention to make any negative impact on the country,” he added. “He just wanted to reveal how these girls lived after their nightmares ended.”
Court spokesman Ly Sophanna could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Long Kimheang, the wife of Mr Rott Mony, yesterday said she met her husband at Prey Sar prison on Friday and noted that he looked abnormal.
“I cried when I saw my husband. They shaved his hair and he was just smiling all the time even when I cried in front of him,” Ms Kimheang said. “I’m so worried that he is being tortured in jail.”
According to a letter obtained by Khmer Times yesterday, Mr Rott Mony in January requested three Russia Today journalists to produce a documentary on life in the Kingdom after the Khmer Rouge regime.
In the letter, Mr Rott Mony said the RT crew would conduct interviews with women and girls who had been freed from sex trafficking, government officials and NGOs. Production of the film took place in January and February.
Since the release of the documentary, the government has dismissed it as fake news after the mother and daughter featured in the film retracted their statements of the daughter’s virginity being sold.
Both the mother and daughter have since said they were duped by Mr Rott Mony to be in the film, including when they were questioned by police after the documentary went viral.
Khieng Sreymich, the daughter, on Thursday said she was acting in the film, not telling her true life story.
“Everyone at school and my neighbours all knew that I was just acting – it was not real,” Ms Sreymich said. “Both my mother and I were not discriminated or affected by this documentary until now.”
Pavel Burnatov, director of the film, on Thursday said on Facebook that he suspects the family’s police statement was given under duress.
“It looks like those children were forced to do it. [Authorities] might have told them that [authorities] are arresting their mothers and offered them some kind of deal,” Mr Burnatov said. “Of course, I can’t say for sure. I don’t know. But it’s surprising to me that those girls are pushed like that.”