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Cambodia 27 July 2006

Journalist flees to Thailand after death threats

Reporters Without Borders today deplored "harassment and death threats" that have forced editor-in-chief You Saravuth to flee to neighbouring Thailand after printing an article criticising a nephew of prime minister Hun Sen. It called on the government to arrest those who made the threats and for the immediate dropping of legal action concerning the article, as well as protection for the editor’s family.

The twice-weekly opposition paper Sralanh Khmer had reported on 15 June 2006 that the nephew, Hun Tho, had illegally seized land. You Saravuth then got many death threats, including from Hun Tho himself, who summoned him to his house and began legal action against him for "inaccurate news."

The charge is punishable by up to a year in prison if the authorities choose to prosecute under the 1992 laws of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) rather than the more liberal 1993 press law. The Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) says courts habitually use the harsher UNTAC laws.

You Saravuth told Reporters Without Borders he would ask for asylum in Thailand and said his wife, who was still in Cambodia, was now being threatened too.

The editor of another opposition paper, Meakneak Sékarkhmer (Khmer Conscience), is being sued for libel by Funcinpec party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

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