Cambodia’s Internet crackdown reaches its activist monks

For years, a group of Cambodian monks has used platforms like Facebook to expose daily injustices. An online crackdown is now putting them at risk.

The sexually explicit photos were plastered over Venerable Luon Sovath’s Facebook page, with its more than 100,000 followers. “The monk lacks morals,” one of the messages read. On the same day, his YouTube channel was also hacked, along with his personal email.

Sovath doesn’t know who was behind the attack and about five others that have targeted his pages. But he is the most well-known of Cambodia’s tech-capable monks, who have become citizen journalists, videoing stories throughout Cambodia and sharing them on social media.

“I am publishing the truth, not fake news,” the saffron-robed monk said of his work which has focused in recent years on evictions of poor people from their land, deforestation, the right to protest, and free elections, that have pitted him against Cambodia’s authorities.

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