A man in Takeo province was charged with incitement and spreading false information after he posted on Facebook that two Vietnamese men had chased his wife’s niece, a story the 14-year-old girl and her family denied, a provincial court spokesman said on Wednesday.
Ly Chhaya was charged late Tuesday night with false information and incitement to commit a felony, which carry potential sentences of one to two years in prison and a fine of up to 4 million riel, or about $1,000, and six months to two years in prison and a fine of up to 4 million riel, respectively.
The charges followed a fiery speech from Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh earlier that day in which he decried the rampant rumors on social media about kidnappings occurring throughout the country.
Mr. Hun Sen encouraged Facebook users to “not create problems.”
The child-snatching rumors, which have garnered tens of thousands of shares on Facebook, have often been accompanied by accusations of Vietnamese suspects and organ-harvesting motives.
Local and National Police have repeatedly said the reports are false and that a single group is behind the rumors, though officials have declined to provide evidence for that conclusion.
Samleang Seila, executive director of the anti-child trafficking NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which works with Cambodian police, said on Tuesday that he had “never experienced any cases” involving kidnapping and organ harvesting in Cambodia, and had only heard of such crimes through social media rumors.