Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Court date for RFA journalists’ verdict announced

Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, former journalists from the RFA, who are accused of espionage, arrive at the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh for their trial proceedings.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will announce on August 30 its verdict against two Radio Free Asia journalists charged with espionage, it said this morning.

A short second hearing into the espionage cases was held at the court in the morning, followed by a closed-door hearing into pornography charges that have been added to their case.

Yeang Sothearin, one of the two defendants, told CamboJA News in front of the court that he had asked the judge to drop all charges and return his confiscated possessions, including his passport.

“I did not commit anything wrong,” Sothearin said.

He was hoping to visit his sick father in Kampuchea Krom, in Vietnam, he said.

Uon Chhin, the other defendant, said he still maintained hope that the court would drop the charges against him, but said he was emotional and felt depressed on a daily basis.

“It’s always uncertain what will happen to me next,” Chhin said. “I feel like I’m a turtle surrounded by a forest fire, and don’t know how to run away from it.”

Chhin and Sothearin were arrested in November 2017 and charged with “illegally providing information to a foreign state” under Article 445 of the Criminal Code. They have since had production of pornography added to the charges against them and face a prison term of seven to 15 years.

Defense lawyer Kong Pisey argued in the courtroom that the charge of espionage deviated from reality.

“The article is about supplying to a foreign state — what state is that? And if it’s true, the Cambodian government should write a letter to that foreign state and ask them to defend,” Pisey said. “But the Cambodian government has not done it — to request the foreign state to explain — and instead charged my clients without any proof or evidence.”