Newspaper Publisher Asks Supreme Court for Release

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Police officers stand guard at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 16, 2017. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Journalist and publisher Ros Sokhet appealed his imprisonment on Friday at the Supreme Court, even as he now has less than two weeks left on his 18-month sentence.

Sokhet, publisher of the Cheat Khmer newspaper, was arrested in June last year and sentenced to 18 months and fined 2 million riel for incitement in relation to critical comments online against government leaders.

Standing in an orange prison jumpsuit, Sokhet told the Supreme Court judges that he had not intended to incite any chaos with his Facebook post, and that his comments were only expressions to attract interest from followers of his Facebook page.

He had appealed because he considered the 18-month sentence against him to be too serious, he said, asking for his release.

Sokhet noted that he had only 11 days left to serve.

A decision is expected on December 24.

After the hearing, Sokhet told reporters that the 18-month sentence was an injustice for him and his family.

“I will continue to be a reporter because the Ministry of Information has not canceled my license. I will continue because I want to promote the media sector in Cambodia to be better than before,” Sokhet said.

Defense lawyer Sam Sokong told reporters outside the courtroom that the aim of appeal was to reduce the jail sentence as well as remove the 2 million riel fine, and secure the return of Sokhet’s computer and phone, which were confiscated by police.

The Facebook post from June last year that led to Sokhet’s arrest said: “Hun Sen will lose everything if he continues to insist on installing his son as prime minister! The yuon will not support Hun Manet,” he said, using a derogatory term for Vietnamese.

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