Immigration Dept Boss Accuses Reporter of Conspiracy

The head of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department accused a Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalist Sunday of conspiracy and illegally crossing a border while he reported on a group of Vietnamese Montagnards in Ratanakkiri province.

General Sok Phal said the RFA journalist, Ratha Visal, should have informed the authorities he was reporting in the area close to the border with Vietnam before meeting with the Montagnards, who say they are fleeing persecution at the hands of the Vietnamese government.

“Radio Free Asia went to meet those people quietly and then broadcast them by radio. I think this action should be considered conspiracy and illegally crossing a border,” Gen. Phal said. “Radio Free Asia not only did wrong by illegally crossing the border, but they also hid the Montagnard people from authorities,” he added.

Chun Chanboth, head of RFA’s Khmer service, said Mr. Visal was a responsible employee and was operating well within his rights as a journalist.

“Our job is to do the report and put it on the radio and broadcast it to the public,” Mr. Chanboth said. “Our job is not to report to the government.”

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