Police Accuse Journalists, Source of Extortion

Three reporters working for separate newspapers in Banteay Meanchey province and one of their sources were arrested last week on accusations of extorting money from a woman they were investigating for human trafficking, a provincial police chief said.

Khin Khy, 35, and Kong Vuthy, 37, from Kampuchea Roth (Cam­bo­dian State) newspaper, Oun Saom, 38, from Cheat Yoeung (Our Nation) newspaper and an un­named villager were ar­rested Fri­day and sent to court Sa­turday, Banteay Meanchey pro­vincial police Chief Sok Sareth said.

An unnamed villager had in­formed Oun Saom of a case in­volving Theang Sak, 52, who allegedly took a young woman to work in Thailand four years ago and never brought her back, said Van Dailin, deputy chief of the Neutral Democratic Jour­na­lists’ Association.

When Oun Saom went to interview Theang Sak, she reportedly paid him about $73 not to publish anything about her, said Kuong Chantha, chief of the Battambang pro­vincial branch of the journalists’ association, which also covers Banteay Meanchey province.

Oun Saom agreed to the deal and left with Theang Sak’s money, but was later arrested along with his source shortly after, he added.

Separately, about an hour after Oun Saom was arrested, the two reporters from Kampuchea Roth Newspaper contacted the woman about the same case of the missing girl and about Oun Saom’s arrest.

Police then charged the other two reporters with extortion, Kuong Chantha said.

Van Dailin said the journalists’ as­sociation would file a complaint against police for arresting the reporters without warrants.

Sok Sareth, however, charged that both newspapers are notorious for printing false articles and their re­porters are known to threaten people with publishing unsavory stories about them.

He said police had evidence to back up their accusations against the reporters, but did not elaborate. He confirmed that police had no arrest warrants.

The four remain in detention but have not yet been charged, he said.

 

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