The Cambodian government is seeking legal action against Moneaksekar Khmer, the country's only remaining opposition newspaper, claiming it defamed the military in an article it published last month.
Government spokesman Phai Siphan said the suit was filed in military court after the paper's editor-in-chief failed to reply to other messages from the government. “My office had sent all documents to [the] ministry of defense and the ministry has their own procedure and lawyer to send the case to the military court to work on in order to protect our interest and rights.”
The newspaper published an article last month [Nov. 13], in which opposition party Vice President Kem Sokha was quoted as saying “election fraud” and the subsequent deployment of the armed forces had “robbed victory from the Cambodian people.”
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has disputed the results of July's parliamentary election, saying it was denied victory due to widespread vote rigging. The government has denied the charge.
Dam Sith, an opposition lawmaker who oversees Moneaksekar Khmer, said the newspaper has neither reported anything false nor violated its code of ethics.
He added the legal action is a “new style of threat” against the publication. “If there is legal action, as Mr. Phai Siphan says, then it is a restriction of media freedom, a threat against the freedom of expression of the people. And it’s against the constitution, it’s against the rights of the people, and a restriction of the expression of truth.”
Moneaksekar Khmer has long been critical of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and has faced a number of lawsuits and been suspended from publishing in the past.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.