The Press Council of Cambodia said yesterday it planned to meet with Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith today to discuss a request for the release of jailed journalist Ros Sokhet.
Sok Sovann, president of the Press Council of Cambodia, said the group would ask Mr Kanharith to intervene in the case and take a letter requesting Mr Sokhet’s release to the government.
“I plan to meet with Information Minister Khieu Kanharith…. [He] would be an important person to intervene to release Ros Sokhet from prison. In the past when journalists were convicted and jailed I used to talk to the minister to release them,” Mr Sovann said.
Mr Sokhet is more than 11 months into a two-year prison sentence handed down after he was convicted of disinformation for sending a series of disparaging text messages to television personality Soy Sopheap last October.
During a telephone call to a reporter last month, Mr Sokhet called upon the government to release him, while complaining he was not receiving proper medical treatment at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar Prison.
Mr Sovann said he would also ask Mr Kanharith at their meeting today to help arrange a visit of around 40 Cambodian journalists to Thailand in December to meet with Thai officials and Thai journalists.
Cambodia and Thailand recently agreed to create a cultural exchange program for journalists to help improve relations between the two countries.
“The visit can help journalists from both countries to make the public better understand the other nation,” he said.
Mr Sovann said he had heard that six Cambodian journalists had been invited to visit Thailand, but added he thought this group was too small to represent all Cambodian media.
Mr Kanharith confirmed he would meet with the Press Council of Cambodia to discuss Mr Sokhet’s situation, but declined to comment on a possible release of Mr Sokhet. “Until I meet them I don’t know,” he said.
Mr Kanharith also confirmed that the Thai government had officially invited six Cambodian journalists to visit Thailand from Oct 18 to Oct 22.
He said the planned trip was part of the Cambodian and Thai governments’ recent efforts to “boost understanding between the two peoples.” “I will select a group of journalists,” he added.
Mr Kanharith said he himself might also receive an invitation to visit Thailand soon. “The Thai Prime Minister has said during the meeting in Brussels [on Oct 4] that he wants the Cambodian Minister of Information to visit,” he said.