A reporter for US-funded Radio Free Asia in Battambang province has gone into hiding after receiving a death threat by telephone on Saturday evening, a rights worker said Tuesday.
Yin Meng Ly, Adhoc’s Battambang provincial coordinator, said that during a meeting with RFA reporter Lim Pisith on Sunday, the journalist informed him that a man had called him by telephone at around 7 pm Saturday and told him to “mind his life.”
Lim Pisith said the man was a government official, Yin Meng Ly said.
. “[Lim] Pisith looked frightened,” he said, adding that he does not know the reporter’s current whereabouts.
Yin Meng Ly declined to reveal the official’s name because he said his investigation into the case was incomplete.
An RFA staffer in Phnom Penh confirmed that Lim Pisith was in hiding. He added that the reporter had recently gone to investigate illegal logging allegations in Kompong Thom province’s Prey Long forest, which were mentioned in a recent Global Witness report.
“He saw the activity of cutting down the trees [being] protected by gunmen,” the staffer said on condition of anonymity. “He took pictures and recorded the sound …of the saws.”
When a reporter on Tuesday called the number that was used to make the alleged threat, a 28-year-old woman in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district answered.
The woman, who declined to identify herself, said she makes the mobile phone available to people on the street who pay her to make calls. The woman said that she could not recall who used the phone at the time of the threat on the Saturday.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said he was unaware of the incident, but doubted that a senior official had threatened the reporter. He added that Lim Pisith should report the threat to the police.
SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said that the threat was typical of the problems that journalists in Cambodia face when trying to properly do their job. “When a journalist reports the truth, they take a risk,” she said.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith could not be contacted. (Additional reporting by John Maloy)