Journalist Taken to Court Over Report on Illegal Timber Factory

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LSN publisher Los Seng is photographed outside the Kampot Provincial Court on January 20, 2022. (Supplied)
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A video report alleging a Battambang timber factory was illegally processing luxury wood has landed a local journalist in court.

Lim Phally, a reporter for Los Seng News, said he had asked for a delay for court questioning that was scheduled today.

He was sued after a livestream report from January 16 about a local businessman he claims was trafficking timber, he said.

“We saw him actively transporting timber in and out of Battambang every day. When our reporters went to cover it, he complained against us, accusing us of defamation and disseminating [false] information — even though I have documents, videos and photos of him carrying wood.”

The January 16 video shows Phally going to video the businessman’s wood processing factory and commenting that luxury wood was found in the factory, and that it was illegal, calling for an investigation.

“This machine is legal only for local wood,” he says in the video, claiming the luxury wood was imported.

Battambang provincial forestry department director Chhim Vachira said the factory was licensed and had been inspected.

All the wood transported to the factory had a valid permit, Vachira said.

“Without being legal, they would not be able to run. So in my opinion, if it was not legal, it would not be possible to be open in the center of the city.”

Provincial court spokesperson Duong Savorn could not be reached for comment.

The Cambodian Journalists Alliance says in its latest monitoring report that 93 journalists faced harassment in 51 incidents last year. Thirty-two journalists were arrested and 10 faced other legal action, the report says.

The government, meanwhile, has complained of the dissemination of false information that could disrupt social order or hurt Cambodia’s reputation.

Los Seng News is also facing court action in Kampot province after its reporters covered a land dispute, while the outlet’s publisher, Los Seng, last year said he was facing pressure from officials over covering the at-times violent land dispute in Kandal province related to Phnom Penh’s new under-construction international airport.

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