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Bail appeal today for RFA pair

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The reporters leave court after an earlier hearing. KT/Mai Vireak

The Supreme Court will today hold a bail hearing in the case of former Radio Free Asia reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin who are detained over espionage charges.

Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Marady Hotel on November 14 and accused of espionage for sending reports to the United States.

Keo Vanny, defence lawyer for the pair, said he would attend the hearing at the Supreme Court.

“My clients have been detained for a long time and the investigation is not new,” he said. “It is unjust for them. They have lost their freedom and time to earn money to feed their families.”

“We hope that the Supreme Court will provide justice for them and release them on bail,” he added.

Mr Vanny noted they would not flee and would cooperate with the court in all procedures. if released.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with human rights group Licadho, said that based on what Mr Vanny said, the investigation had not progressed.

If the court did not grant bail, it would harm their families because the pair would not be able to work to support them, Mr Sam Ath said.

Soeng Sen Karuna, a senior monitor with human rights group Adhoc, said Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin had resigned from their jobs.

“I think that the charges are not reasonable for journalists because Cambodia is open for the journalism sector and many Cambodians and foreigners were collecting information to send abroad,” he said.

Mr Sen Karuna said that the court should release them on bail because Mr Chhin and Mr Sothearin said they would not flee and would cooperate with all court procedures.

The families of both men are facing difficulty and cannot afford their rent, he said, noting that they have moved in with relatives.

In May, Phnom Penh Municipal Court extended the pre-trial detention of the pair for six months for investigations to continue. They are being detained at Prey Sar prison pending trial.

The men worked for RFA’s Khmer-language service until the US-funded media outlet shut its Phnom Penh bureau on September 12 last year, citing government repression and the forced closure of its FM radio broadcasts.

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