International media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement released on Tuesday that it was concerned by what it characterized as a “surge” in threats against journalists and news organizations in Cambodia in recent weeks.
The statement noted that such threats appeared to be on the rise in the wake of a July 7 report by Global Witness detailing the manifold business interests of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family.
After local newspapers covered the release of the report, members of Mr. Hun Sen’s family accused them of colluding with Global Witness, while government spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not want “the messenger to get killed,” in an apparent reference to the press.
Reporters Without Borders said these and other developments were worrying.
“The reactions of all these officials and members of the prime minister’s family are outrageous even if not entirely surprising,” Benjamin Ismail, the head of the organization’s Asia Pacific desk, said in the statement.
“We caution Hun Sen’s government against any judicial reprisals against media outlets,” he said. “Gagging the press would just make things worse for him.”
Mr. Siphan said on Tuesday that his complaint was only with reporters who “abuse their own ethic[s] and professionalism.”
“Who is in jail because of their reporting?” he asked. “They are corrupt, yes, they abuse their professional[ism], yes. You have to be fair with the government, too,” he said.
“White people speak very good English and twist the story—I don’t like it.”