Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Information, has written to the Siem Reap provincial governor asking for intervention in the case of a jailed journalist.
Police arrested Teng Mara, a reporter for Cochinchine newspaper, for alleged defamation on April 9 after he had written about a dispute between market vendors and a Siem Reap deputy penal police chief, Kak Sa Om.
“I handed over Khieu Kanharith’s letter of intervention to first Governor Oung Oeun today so that my colleague will be freed,” Yan Sidara, editor of Cochinchine, said Wednesday.
Khieu Kanharith’s letter asked, on behalf of the Ministry of Information, that Oung Oeun have Teng Mara released while the case is investigated.
Telephone calls to both Khieu Kanharith and Oung Oeun went unanswered Wednesday.
Yan Sidara said he hopes to get a response to Khieu Kanharith’s letter from Oung Oeun today.
So Vat, chief prosecutor of Siem Reap provincial court, said Wednesday that the case against Teng Mara did not relate to his article in Cochinchine, but rather to a fake petition Teng Mara allegedly presented on behalf of the vendors. “This case is not serious, but please let the investigating judge do it,” So Vat said.
Yan Sidara has maintained that the authorities brought the defamation charge against his reporter for misspelling the name of a vendor involved in the dispute with Police Chief Kak Sa Om.
The Khmer Journalists for Democracy Association has also petitioned the Siem Reap court, condemning the charges brought by Investigating Judge Ang Mealaktei as unconstitutional, calling them a violation of the press law, association head Chea Song said Wednesday.
Chea Song said his group had also petitioned the Supreme Council of Magistracy, Cambodia’s highest legal body that is charged with disciplining judges, to take action against Ang Mealaktei.