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Airline worker warned over online plane crash hoax

Pav Suy / Khmer Times Share:
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An airline employee who shared fake news about a plane making an emergency landing in a rice field in Siem Reap was released from police custody yesterday morning.

Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Phav Sochum, 24, was released after being educated about what he did wrong.

His colleague, Ponleu Leaphea, 21, who also shared the Facebook post, was taken in for questioning, but released shortly after and cleared of any involvement in the hoax.

“We released the suspect after we educated him and had him sign a contract not to do it again,” Mr Narong said.

“Sharing such things on Facebook causes distress and confusion across the country.”

Mr Sochum, who goes by Facebook name Bondet Panha Vatanak, on Saturday shared the picture of the aircraft landing in a rice field with a caption saying: “An aircraft made a safe emergency landing in Siem Reap.”

The fake news was originally posted by a friend of his.

Hours later, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation came out with a statement denying the false information.

Provincial police arrested Mr Sochum and detained him overnight before releasing him yesterday.

Talking in a video filmed at the provincial police office and posted to the Facebook page of the General Commissariat of the National Police, Mr Sochum admitted publicising the fake news and said he was an employee of Sky Angkor Airline in Siem Reap.

“I didn’t expect the post to affect the general public or the leadership of the country. I acknowledge my wrongdoing in confusing people inside and outside the country,” he said.

“I would like to apologise to the public, the government, the general commissioner of the national police and the commissioner of Siem Reap provincial police and promise I won’t do it again,” he said.

Mr Sochum added that he didn’t know if the news was fake or not. He also said other Facebook users shared the post more widely, exaggerating the details of the alleged crash landing and claiming the plane had a technical fault.

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