Cambodian authorities should drop the baseless espionage charges against two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 20, 2020, Cambodia’s Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh will hear the arguments from Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin challenging the trial court’s ruling that their espionage charges should be reinvestigated.
“Cambodian authorities have treated the former RFA journalists as criminals by manufacturing a farcical case against them,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The authorities should drop the charges and end the ceaseless judicial harassment of these two journalists.”
A trial judge ruled on October 3, 2019 that there was insufficient evidence to convict Chhin and Sothearin. However, instead of dismissing the case he sent it for reinvestigation. Both journalists face charges of supplying a foreign state with information prejudicial to national defense under article 445 of the criminal code and of producing pornography under article 39 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. If convicted, each faces up to 16 years in prison.