Ministry dismisses ‘blacklisted’ media report

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann. MOFA

The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday dismissed a media report stating that Cambodia has blacklisted six EU parliamentarians from the Kingdom over their support of the court-dissolved CNRP.

According to a broadcast by Radio Free Asia, a July 15 letter issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry listed the names and photos of the six parliamentarians and was circulated among Cambodian embassy officials across the globe.

It noted that all six parliamentarians pledged to accompany former opposition leader Sam Rainsy during his planned return to the Kingdom.

Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann yesterday said the report was fake news, and that the ministry has always instructed embassy officials around the world to perform their duties with professionalism and prioritise national interests, especially regarding the Kingdom’s sovereignty.

“The report is not true; it’s complete fake news with ill intent,” he said. “Cambodian embassies welcome all foreigners who desire to come with good purpose.”

“However, those who wish to support a wanted convict [Mr Rainsy], then this will affect national security,” Mr Sophann said. “Thus, our embassies must be attentive and need not issue them a visa.”

According to RFA’s report, the letter listed EU representatives Phil Bennion from the UK, Ana Gomes from Portugal, Ilhan Kyuchyuk from Bulgaria, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen of the Netherlands, Abir Al Sahlani of Sweden, and Javier Nart from Spain.

RFA said the existence of the letter was confirmed by a Cambodian diplomat who spoke under condition of anonymity. RFA spokesman Rohit Mahajan could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday criticised RFA.

“I agree with what the government said; RFA reported fake news and it goes against journalism as a profession,” Mr Phea said. “Those who listen to its reports could be influenced to have ill intent against the government.”

He noted that the six EU parliamentarians should not have expressed support for Mr Rainsy.

“The country has independence and is sovereign,” Mr Phea said. “They [EU MPs] should not be involved and let the court deal with it.”

“It’s completely wrong to interfere in Cambodia’s affairs,” he added.

In June, Mr Rainsy and six supporters met in Minnesota in the United States, vowing to return to the Kingdom despite multiple arrest warrants against him.

At the time, they called on other exiled CNRP supporters to return to the Kingdom to conduct a non-violent rally for the release of former CNRP president Kem Sokha and to have the CNRP reinstated.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017 and Mr Sokha was later placed under court supervision for allegedly colluding with the United States to overthrow the government.

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