Editors at Kyodo News service have lodged a protest and threatened litigation against the distributor of a story falsely claiming that resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay had been killed.
A fake article under a byline from the Japan-based Kyodo was distributed by e-mail Thursday to news agencies and government sources alleging that resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay was “dead.”
The fake story was not reprinted or broadcast in any local media, but that did not stop the false information from spreading throughout the city within 12 hours.
“Is it true? Is Nhiek Bun Chhay dead?” one moto-taxi driver asked a reporter Friday morning.
“In terms of spreading rumors it was very effective, because everywhere I went [Friday] everybody asked me ‘is it true?’” Kyodo’s Phnom Penh bureau chief Moriyasu Chikazawa said. “But as for the media it was not [effective.]”
“We categorically deny the Bangkok-datelined ‘Kyodo’ report that [General] Nhiek Bun Chhay has been killed by ‘several plainclothes gunmen near the border town of O’Smach.’ We have never distributed such a report,” the statement from Kyodo said.
But whether the person who sent the fake story ever got the warning is unknown. The e-mail address has turned out to be fake also, Chikazawa said.
The e-mail address on the fake story includes the name of the Japanese company and ends with “.jp,” which is the country suffix for Japan.
Kyodo warned in its e-mail to the distributor of possible litigation for the unauthorized use of its name in the story and in the article’s return e-mail address.
This is the first time a fake article has been distributed using the Kyodo News dateline, Chikazawa said.
Resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay escaped from Phnom Penh in July 1997 after factional fighting that effectively ousted his boss, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, as first prime minister.
Funcinpec officials say the commander is very much alive and well in O’Smach.