Editor of Opposition Newspaper Is Summoned for Questioning

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned the editor-in-chief of the opposition-aligned Khmer Machas Srok newspaper for questioning over a disinformation suit concerning articles the paper wrote about Cabinet Minister Sok An.

According to a copy of Deputy Municipal Prosecutor Sok Roeun’s May 21 summons, Hang Chakra must appear before the court on June 3 to answer questions concerning a disinformation suit filed by government attorney Suong Chanthan.

Mr Chanthan confirmed that he filed the lawsuit and said he is seeking 10 million riel, or about $2,500, in compensation. He added, however, that he filed the complaint on be-

half of the government and not Mr Sok An, who heads the Council of Ministers.

“The articles could affect political stability because the articles were written about the government leaders,” Mr Chanthan said, but did not specify what instability he foresaw as a result of the stories. He added that the newspaper repeatedly wrote “improper stories” about Mr Sok An, but he presented the court only two articles—published April 5-7 and May 21—as evidence.

The article published in the April 5-7 issue of Khmer Machas Srok was entitled “Hun Sen Has Cracked Down on Bad and Corrupt Officials Who Are Working Around Sok An.” In that article, anonymous sour-

ces claimed that officials supposedly working in the cabinet minister’s circle had been demoted or fired.

Mr Chakra, the editor-in-chief, said Wednesday that the information in his stories about Sok An came from sources working at the Council of Ministers who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.

The editor said his paper had tried to contact Mr Sok An for comment in the articles but was unable to do so. “We didn’t verify the information because we couldn’t reach him,” he said.

Mr Chakra said that if the lawsuit makes it to trial, he doubts he can prevail because the case involved a high-ranking government official.

“I am concerned because no opposition newspapers have ever won a case,” he said.

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