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Court rules in favour of one RFA journalist

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The two Radio Free Asia reporters were arrested in Phnom Penh in 2017 and charged with providing sensitive information to foreign states. Hong Menea

Court rules in favour of one RFA journalist

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favour of former Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporter Uon Chhin by returning his identification card but rejected the appeal of his colleague Yeang Sothearin whose passport has been withheld by the lower court.

The pair was arrested in Phnom Penh in November 2017 and later charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with “providing foreign states with sensitive information that undermines national defence” under Article 445 of the Criminal Code.

They were released on bail in August 2018 but barred from changing their addresses or leaving the country.

In October last year, the court ordered further investigations into their case, citing a lack of evidence.

At the hearing on Wednesday, presiding Judge Nil Nonn said the decisions were made after considering the arguments of the defence lawyer and his clients, and the prosecutor general.

“Yeang Sothearin’s passport is withheld to prevent him from leaving the country, which could affect national security,” he said.

Defence lawyer Som Chamroeun told The Post outside the courtroom on Wednesday that he and his clients were disappointed with the decisions.

“It places less value on their freedom, which is guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said.

He said the decisions are unjustified unless his clients are placed under court supervision. He said the withholding of their documentation would not aid the court investigation or fact-finding in their ongoing case.

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