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Four journalists charged with extortion

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The alleged extortion followed illegal logging. Supplied

Four journalists were charged with extortion on Saturday in Ratanakkiri province for attempting to bribe a man transporting timber from a protected forest in Banlong City.
Kim Rasmey, commander of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Military Police, yesterday identified the journalists as Yorn Tith, a reporter with Khmer Youth Media; Peng Sothearak, a reporter working with CPN TV Online; Mey Menghuy, a reporter working with Phnom Penh News newspaper; and Chan Nara, a reporter with TNM TV Online.  
Mr Rasmey said the four journalists stopped a van carrying timber in Labansek commune and took photos of its haul on June 14, demanding the driver pay them each $500 per month for them not to publish the pictures.
“After taking the photos, they allegedly accused the victim of illegally transporting timber,” said Mr Rasmey. 
“They told the victim to pay them money in exchange for not reporting or publishing information about the timber smuggling.”
The driver of the bus filed a complaint after the exchange and the four journalists were arrested on June 15, said Mr Rasmey. 
Mr Rasmey declined to name the driver of the van or discuss if he would be facing charges related to illegal logging.
“The journalists were charged by the prosecutor at the Ratanakkiri Provincial Court with threats accompanied by extortion,” he said. “They have all been temporarily detained.”
Mr Rasmey added that the journalists face six months to two years imprisonment if convicted. 

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