PHNOM PENH: Two Cambodian journalists who had worked for US-funded Radio Free Asia and are charged with espionage were released on bail after a pardon freed four land rights activists from prison.
Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who is better known by his professional name of Yeang Socheameta, were arrested last November and charged with undermining national security by supplying information to a foreign state.
The two journalists were also later charged with producing pornography after police said they found pornographic images on their computers. They face possible prison terms of up to 15 years.
The pair were greeted by friends and family when they walked out of Prey Sar prison on Tuesday evening.
“Frankly speaking, we are not fully receiving our freedom because we must still present ourselves upon police request,” Yeang Sothearin told journalists outside the prison.
“We are continuing to urge the court to drop all charges against us so that we can do our jobs, living our lives as other people do.”
Uon Chhin vowed to stay in his profession. “I love my job as a journalist,” he said.
Their employer welcomed their release on bail while also calling for the charges against them to be dropped.
“The targeting and intimidation of anyone who has worked as an independent journalist in Cambodia is a clear violation of press freedom,” said Libby Liu, president of Washington, DC-based Radio Free Asia.
“With today’s development, we hope all charges against them are dropped and their case is immediately dismissed.”
Their arrests came during Cambodia’s crackdown on the media and political opponents before last month’s general election.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party swept the results in a vote widely seen as not fair or credible.
The official voter turnout was high even though a boycott had been called by the main opposition party that was dissolved last year by a court ruling. — AP