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Cambodia 12 September 2006

Journalist gets death threats over corruption reports

Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about death threats made against TV journalist Soy Sopheap after he made revelations on air about accusations of corruption against officials and members of the military.

An anonymous letter was left on 8 September 2006 in front of a Phnom Penh bar habitually frequented by the city’s journalists. "I’ve had it in for you for a long time, dirty Soy Sopheap," the letter read. "Watch out for yourself when you criticise the stars; it means death". The word ’stars’ refers to generals.

"It is always very dangerous for Cambodian journalists to handle reports of corruption among the power elites," the press freedom organisation said. "We urge the authorities to carry out an exhaustive and impartial investigation to track down those behind these death threats and to provide Sopheap with protection if needed."

Information minister, Khieu Kanharith, has promised a full investigation.

Since 2005, Sopheap has produced reports favourable to the Hun Sen government on the pro-government CTN channel. On 2 August he was taken off the review of the morning newspapers after mentioning a report on corruption within the state. Sopheap also presented a Sunday evening programme on the TV channel, which is owned by businessman Kit Meng.

"I have often reported on remarks by the head of government, including when he threatened to sack, those, including the generals, who are implicated in expropriation of land," Sopheap told the newspaper Cambodge Soir.

Last July, the editor of Sralanh Khmer, You Saravuth, was forced to flee to Thailand after being charged with putting out "false information" and receiving death threats. He had published an article, implicating Hun Tho, a nephew of prime minister Hun Sen.

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