Snguon Nhoeun, a Kampong Chhnang land activist, said he was detained for two hours by police after taking photos of a protest outside the provincial court.
Around 50 protesters were lighting incense and praying outside the court on January 18 when he was pushed into a car and had three phones seized, Nhoeun said. Police asked him to delete the images and sign a contract, he said.
“They said I took pictures without permission,” he said. “My arrest is very unfair for me because I was only shooting in public and they arrested me. I think the court has something to hide from me.”
Nhoeun added that he worked as a citizen journalist to cover the activities. Nhoeun is part of the Lor Peang community, which has long been in dispute with KDC International, a company owned by Energy Minister Suy Sem’s wife and accused of bulldozing people’s homes.
“This is a serious threat to me. This act threatens not only me … it threatens other citizens who want to photograph in front of the court,” he said.
Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court spokesperson Hak Kimhong denied that any arrests had been made. He said that authorities had only held him to explain some problems. He said the reason why the police detained and confiscated the phone was because Nhoeun was broadcasting live in front of the court without permission so the prosecutor ordered a temporary confiscation.
“I would like to deny his arrest. It is not true. We just explained to him where to shoot and where not to shoot.”
Kampong Chhnang Provincial Police spokesperson Ear Bunthoeun declined to comment on the case, saying the order to detain Nhoeun was made by the prosecutor’s office.
Lawyers for Chea Kheng, Energy Minister Sem’s wife, told The Cambodia Daily in 2010 to not mention the minister in articles about the Lor Peang-KDC International land dispute or they would sue for spreading “disinformation.”