Two Former Radio Free Asia Journalists Detained in Phnom Penh

Two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists were arrested late Tuesday on suspicion of illegally producing news for their recently banned station, according to a local news report.

Uon Chhin, a former RFA videographer, and Yeang Sothearin, a former RFA office coordinator and editor, were taken to the Municipal Police Headquarters for questioning.

Police accused the pair of secretly installing broadcasting equipment from their room in a guest house in the capital’s Meanchey district and sending news reports to RFA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Police confiscated a range of items including a voice recorder, a microphone, a laptop and a video monitor, according to a police report circulated on Facebook and the Rasmei Kampuchea daily newspaper

In an emailed response to questions from The Cambodia Daily about the arrests, RFA spokesman Rohit Mahajan said “RFA is deeply concerned about this development and watching it closely.”

Police were not immediately available for comment.

At the time of writing it was unclear as to whether charges had been filed.

Radio Free Asia closed its nearly 20-year-old bureau in Phnom Penh in September following a crackdown by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government on independent media ahead of critical polls next year. RFA was closed under the pretext of tax and administrative violations, the same rationale used to force the closure of the American-owned Cambodia Daily newspaper.

At the time of the closure, RFA President Libby Liu said the government had resorted to “false statements” and “increasingly threatening and intimidating rhetoric” about RFA despite the station’s full cooperation in complying with all government requests and its efforts to register as a licensed media company in Cambodia.

RFA continued reporting on Cambodia from outside the country after its closure, with coverage handled by its Washington, DC, bureau.

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