Reporter in Court for Drug Trafficking

A reporter for the online website Cheat News who is accused of drug trafficking appeared in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, more than six months after police arrested him based on claims made by a teenage drug user.

Hong Yarith, 36, was arrested on January 23 after Suon Manith, 18, was arrested with methamphetamine, commonly called ice, in Sen Sok district and told police that Mr. Yarith regularly sold him the drug.

Mr. Yarith denied the charges in court Tuesday and said he doesn’t know why Mr. Manith made the claim.

The reporter’s defense lawyer suggested that Mr. Manith did not know the full name of the person he purchased the drugs from so just said the name “Rith”—a common name in Cambodia—which caused the confusion and led to Mr. Yarith’s arrest.

Ma Norin, editor-in-chief of Cheat News, vowed to stand by his reporter, who he said worked the overnight shift for the website.

“I do not believe Mr. Yarith committed the crime,” he said.

Presiding Judge Keo Mony said a verdict would be handed down on September 4.

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