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Newspaper editor arrested for defamation

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Newspaper editor arrested for defamation in Cambodia

The International Federation of Journalists (IF) has concerns for press freedom in Cambodia after the arrest of Cambodian newspaper editor Hang Sakhorn under the charge of defamation.

"Attempts to silence the press through criminal law are an assault on justice and the basic right to freedom of expression," said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

"We call on the Cambodian Government to drop all criminal charges against Hang Sakhorn immediately," said Warren.

"The IFJ has a clear message when it comes to defamation: 'don't jail journalists'. No journalist should be put in jail for doing their work," said Warren.

Hang Sakhorn, who is editor of Ponleu Samaki newspaper, was arrested on orders of the Kompong Speu provincial court in Kompong Speu province on Friday, December 2, following a defamation lawsuit lodged by prosecutor Ven Yoeun.

Hang Sakhorn was accused of defaming prosecutor Ven Yoeun, alleging he took a bribe of 3000 USD.

Hang Sakhorn's arrest follows the earlier arrest and imprisonment of Mam Sonando on October 11. Sonando, the owner of Beehive Radio FM 105, is facing charges of defamation and inciting people to commit crime.

Prosecutor Ven Yoeun said he knew nothing of Hang Sakhorn's arrest but that he had filed a defamation complaint three months prior and was simply seeking justice.

"Hang Sakhorn's arrest is not only a blow to press freedom but a blow to democratic freedom," said Warren.

"Criminal defamation remains one of the biggest threats to journalists and to press freedom in Asia. We call on governments throughout the region to remove criminal defamation from their statutes," said Warren.

The IFJ continues to campaign against criminal defamation, for reasonable civil penalties and for appropriate legal alternatives to defamation.

For more information, please visit: http://www.ifj-asia.org/page/defamation.html

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

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