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Radio reporter sued for disinformation

(SEAPA/IFEX) - A Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporter was charged with disinformation for broadcasting a report on a dispute between a Cham Muslim community leader and members of his mosque, media reports said.

The "Phnom Penh Post" said RFA reporter Sok Serey, along with two activists from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and two representatives of the mosque, were charged based on Sok Serey's October 2008 news broadcast alleging that community leader Rim Math misspent 10 million riels (approx. US$2,400) that had been allocated for a local community project.

Sok Serey told the court during a hearing on 9 February 2010 that he had aired the story only after he determined that it was in the public interest.

He was quoted in the "Phnom Penh Post" as saying, "I received this information three times. The first and second times I did not broadcast it. But the third time, the sources told me that it was a big story that would affect many people in their community."

Defense lawyer Muong Sokun said he hoped that the court would find his client innocent of the charges "because my client has enough witnesses and evidence in his broadcasts to prove that he is not guilty."

The verdict is expected to be handed down on 19 February.

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