The US embassy in Phnom Penh voiced concerns over the sentence of Rath Rott Mony, a news fixer of Russia Today in the production of a documentary about sex trafficking.
The court on Wednesday sentenced Mr Rott Mony to two years in prison with incitement to discriminate for helping Russia Today produce “My Mother Sold Me”, a documentary dismissed as fake news by the government.
Mr Rott Mony was also ordered to $17,200 in compensation to Kav Malay and Tep Salim, the mothers of two girls featured in the film.
In a statement issued today, the US Embassy said it was reported that Mr Rott Mony was not provided a fair trial and that his sentencing further erodes the credibility of the Cambodian judicial system.
The statement noted that the United States supports freedom of expression worldwide as a key component of democratic governance and Freedom of expression is also essential to documenting and raising awareness of Cambodia’s human trafficking problem.
“We call upon the Government of Cambodia to allow all individuals to freely exercise this right, which is protected under international law and the Cambodian constitution, without threat of reprisal,” the US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg said.
Ms Zeeberng also said the United States supports efforts to combat human trafficking in Cambodia by assisting the repatriation of victims with legal representation, counseling, food, medical treatment, vocational training, and job placement services.
Mr Rott Mony was arrested in December after he fled to Thailand in order to avoid prosecution. He spent months in pre-trial detention after his bail request was denied.
Earlier this month, Ekaterina Yakovleva, the head of RT’s documentary department, sent a letter to the Cambodian embassy in Moscow vouching for Mr Rott Mony.
Ms Yakovleva said Mr Rott Mony had worked as their local fixer and interpreter, while the film was edited by a team solely made of RT personnel.