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Journalists accused of incitement over land dispute reporting

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
The two reporters were being questioned at the provincial court yesterday. CEN

Pursat provincial police sent two journalists working for TNM online television to the provincial court yesterday over allegations of incitement and spreading fake news for their reporting on a land dispute between Thmor Da commune residents and the MDS Import Export Company.

Veal Veng district deputy police chief said that there was a complaint accusing the two journalists of incitement and spreading false information.

“They were accused of incitement and misleading reporting,” the deputy police chief said. “The case is related to a land dispute with one family in Thmor Da commune. They incited people to protest against the company over the small compensation the family got from the company.”

The deputy police chief said they were arrested on Tuesday and were sent to provincial police yesterday before being forwarded to the court for questioning.

Pich Sophorn, the commune police chief, said the two reported on Tuesday that a committee of provincial, district and commune officials did not solve the problem for the family affected by the company development. He said the reports accused the officials of favouring the company.

The committee then filed a complaint to police, he noted.

“They reported a lot of fake news about the land dispute and accused authorities of breaching the family’s rights to the land,” he said.

The two journalists were identified as Min Phon, 39, and Sarak Dara, 38.

Sem Bora, CEO of TNM, said his journalists followed proper ethics and the allegations against them are false.

“I don’t understand why they arrested my reporters,” Mr Bora said. “They did not threaten or incite anybody. The people asked our reporters to do reporting because there was a dispute with the company. However, when my reporters went there, they arrested them. I even issued them mission papers for their assignment.”

“They did not go against the code of ethics at all,” he added. “I will give any corroboration they need from me.”

Mo Lida, chief of the serious crimes bureau with the provincial police, said the next action is up to the court.

“We have reached the limit of detention and sent them to court,” he said. “It’s up to the court what happens to them next.”

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