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US Defends Broadcasts to Cambodia

  • VOA News

Voice of America's satellite dishes in Washington, D.C.

Voice of America's satellite dishes in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. is rejecting allegations by Cambodian officials who say U.S.-funded broadcasters are supporting the opposition.

US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh disputed the accusations Friday, telling VOA Khmer that Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America are not in place to be “anti-Cambodian.”

“U.S. funding of Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America is not anti-Cambodian and this is not to support the opposition," said McIntosh. "It is to support the provision of objective and newsworthy material to the Cambodian public."

The Cambodian government called reporters from both U.S.-funded agencies into a closed-door meeting earlier this week to discuss matters of “cooperation.”

Both Reuters and the French news agency quoted sources at the meeting who said officials reproached RFA and VOA for their reports. Reuters' sources said the Cambodian government also threatened unspecified legal action.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told VOA Khmer Friday no threats were made. "We are just talking. We are not doing anything," he said. "The government is not planning any immediate action."

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party have faced increasing international criticism over its treatment of rights workers and journalists, and the U.S.-based Freedom House has declared the country’s media environment “not free.”

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the oversight body for both RFA and VOA, condemned this week's meeting as “a blatant attempt to discourage objective reporting on the Cambodian government.”

VOA Khmer service chief Chris Decherd said in a statement that VOA "will continue broadcasting and reporting in the same objective and professional manner we have done for more than five decades," adding Cambodians "deserve quality news that they can trust."

Earlier this month, the Cambodian courts sentenced Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando to 20 years in prison for allegedly helping foment a secessionist movement. Beehive Radio carries programming for both VOA and RFA.
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