Jailed Journalist Appeals to Gov’t to Release Him

A week after having his Court of Appeal hearing delayed for the second time, jailed journalist Ros Sokhet yesterday called on the government to release him, claiming that he is not receiving proper medical treatment at Prey Sar prison.

Mr Sokhet is more than 10 months into a two-year prison sentence for sending a series of disparaging text messages to television personality Soy Sopheap last October, questioning whether the news anchor had extorted money from Ke Dara, the jailed wife of an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

“I would like the government to kindly release me,” he said by telephone from Prey Sar prison, adding that he would like Information Minister Khieu Kanharith to follow through with his offer last week to help settle the case between him and Mr Sopheap.

Mr Kanharith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr Sokhet said he is suffering from pain in his legs and that staff at Prey Sar prison are ignoring his requests for medical treatment.

“If you don’t have money, they don’t care,” he said.

Hin Sophal, vice president of Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 1, said he was unaware of Mr Sokhet’s health problems.

“My officers did not report to me,” he said, adding that he would investigate the matter.

Mr Sokhet also denied telling a reporter last week that he would apologize to Mr Sopheap if he was released. Mr Sopheap has denied that he filed a complaint against Mr Sokhet, saying that it was the Interior Ministry who lodged the complaint against the journalist.

“I have no reason to apologize,” Mr Sokhet said.

Mr Sopheap declined to comment on Mr Sokhet’s refusal to apologize to him.

“I don’t want to comment because it doesn’t relate to me,” he said. “I was threatened, and then I filed a complaint to police against an unknown person who threatened me. Don’t be confused.”

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