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Cambodian journalist jailed over land dispute report

Committee to Protect Journalists says Sok Oudom was convicted on bogus incitement charges

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

Updated: December 23, 2020 07:39 AM GMT
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Cambodian journalist jailed over land dispute report

Sok Oudom was charged with criminal incitement after reporting on a land dispute involving the military in Kampong Chhnang province. (Photo: Reporters Without Borders)

A Cambodian journalist has been jailed for 20 months for his reporting on a land dispute involving the military.

Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court on Dec. 22 convicted Sok Oudom of broadcasting false news with intent to cause incitement.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of 20 million riel (US$4,950), according to a report by CamboJA, a news website run by the Cambodian Journalists Alliance.

Sok Oudom, owner of the Rithysen 99.75 FM radio station and news website, had been held at Kampong Chhnang Provincial Prison since May 13. He plans to appeal the court verdict.

“Cambodian journalist Sok Oudom’s conviction and imprisonment on bogus incitement charges show that members of the press are not safe to report freely under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s authoritarian government,” said Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“Sok Oudom should be released immediately and all charges against him dropped.”

The journalist was charged after reporting on a land dispute involving the military in Kampong Chhnang province.

Authorities alleged his report constituted criminal incitement. During his trial, Sok Oudom denied that his reporting aimed to incite villagers against the military and to illegally occupy land.

Sok Oudom is at least the third journalist to be jailed on incitement charges in Cambodia this year, the CPJ has documented.

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