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'It is revenge': Bail denied again for RFA reporters accused of espionage

Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin (left) and Yeang Sothearin (right) leave the Appeal Court  on Thursday after their bail request was denied.
Former RFA reporters Oun Chhin (left) and Yeang Sothearin (right) leave the Appeal Court on Thursday after their bail request was denied. Pha Lina

'It is revenge': Bail denied again for RFA reporters accused of espionage

An Appeal Court judge again denied bail on Thursday for two former Radio Free Asia reporters charged with espionage and producing pornography in a case seen as part of Cambodia's crackdown on press freedom.

Oun Chhin,49, and Yeang Sothearin, 35, have been imprisoned since last November after being charged with espionage.

Speaking briefly after the closed-door hearing before Judge Sous Sam Ath , Sothearin described the case against them as an "injustice" that followed their critical reporting on the country's deteriorating political situation. RFA shuttered its in-country service in September.

“The court has investigated for five months but there has not been any result and they continue to only detain me," Sothearin said. “They intend to completely break our spirit.”

Chinn added: “It is revenge."

Their lawyer, Keo Vanny, said the passports and ID cards for both defendants had already been submitted to the court and that their families had promised that they would not escape, but the judge said he still feared that the pair would try to leave the country.

“We wanted the court to require that once a month they must show up at a local authority office and when they do not follow it, the court can detain them," Vanny said.

Vanny said he plans to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, which previously ruled against the pair, who also were charged in March for producing pornography based on photos that purport to show Chhin performing and filming a sex act, although a conclusive identification cannot be made based on the footage.

Sothearin's wife, Lam Chanthy, maintained the pair's innocence.

“The court does not know how to separate the truth," Chanthy said. "They are innocent, but the court pulls them to become guilty. Even though they know all, it still says we are guilty. It has its own intention."

This version corrects the month RFA shuttered its Cambodia operations to September.

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