Owner of Controversial Website Claims Gov’t Blocked Access

The owner of a US-registered website, reahu.net, claimed Sunday that the Cambodian government has blocked Internet users within the country from accessing the site.

Rick Lor said he was informed by a friend working for telecommunications company QB in Phnom Penh that the Ministry of Post and Tele­communications had sent out a letter to Cambodia’s Internet service providers asking them to block the website.

“The Cambodian government had issued a note of blockage to many Internet providers in Cam­bodia…. If this kind of basic freedom is denied God knows what will happen next,” Lor wrote on his website.

Minister of Post and Telecom­munications So Khun confirmed Sunday that he sent the letter to Internet providers some time ago but he said he didn’t know what effect the letter had and was un­aware that the website had been blocked.

“I sent the letter to some [Inter­net providers] in Cambodia and abroad to block the website after I received a complaint from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs,” So Khun said, but declined to give more details.

Reahu.net first stirred up controversy after a leading Khmer-language newspaper published pictures from the website featuring bare-breasted illustrations of Apsara dancers, and one woman in the clothing of a Khmer Rouge cadre.

Reached by e-mail Sunday, Lor said he didn’t want to get involved in Cambodian politics because it was “fruitless” but said the blockage of the website was a “loss to the Khmer people” more than to his website.

Repeated phone calls and an e-mail to Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi went unanswered Sunday, but in an interview on Dec 17 she raged against the website, saying the pictures were “extremely offensive” and would “severely damage the image of Cam­bodian women abroad.”

Attempts to access the website Sun­day using the services Online, Mekong Net and Angkor Net were unsuccessful, but representatives from the providers said they had not heard about the letter and didn’t know why the website could not be accessed.

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