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Journalist covering land dispute beaten unconscious by police, detained

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

Police Accused of Attacking Journalist in Cambodia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by reports of Cambodian authorities attacking and detaining a newspaper journalist in Kampong Seila commune, Cambodia, on April 29.

According to the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), Meas Asi, a reporter for Panhavorn Khmer (Khmer Intellectual), based in Koh Kong province, was allegedly stopped by police and beaten unconscious before being taken to Koh Kong prison.

Asi was on his way to cover a protest by members of Chhouk village to draw Prime Minister Hun Sen's attention to land ownership issues when the incident occurred.

CAPJ reported that the incident may be related to Asi's investigation into a land dispute between 75 families in Chhouk and a wealthy land owner.

Asi's wife, Sles Mass, has not been allowed to visit her detained husband, CAPJ said.

"For press freedom to prevail in any country, journalists must be able to investigate and report on issues in the public interest without fear of intimidation or violent retaliation," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"Cambodia's Government must release Asi immediately and instigate an independent and full investigation into the actions of its security forces in this attack."

The IFJ supports CAPJ in its appeal to the authorities to release Asi or provide him with access to legal representation and family members, as well as a clear explanation of the reason for his detention.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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