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November 07, 2013

Second Cambodian-Born Serviceman Faces US Military Courts

by Sok Khemara

The arrest of a second Cambodian-born serviceman on charges of leaking U.S. secrets has put members of Cambodian-American community on edge.

Cambodian-born U.S. naval commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz is facing criminal charges for allegedly passing sensitive information to a foreign defense contractor.

He is the second Cambodian-born serviceman to face U.S. charges this year. The first, Seivirak Inson, a former U.S. military intelligence officer, was convicted earlier this year of passing classified information to the Cambodian military.

Cambodian-Americans say the incidents, and the media attention they garner, are regretful.

Vibol Tan, a resident of the Washington suburbs in Virginia, told VOA Khmer the cases are troubling for him.

"For me, I am regretful and ashamed as a Cambodian-American, particularly since I am working for the federal government," he said.

But Prom Saunora, another Cambodian-American resident of Virginia, says Misiewicz has no one to blame but himself.

"I am regretful about this issue, because he neglected [his duties] a little bit, because all these issues have a pass-fail line. And he [failed]."

Schanley Kuch, who lives in Maryland, stresses the ethnic background of the defendants is not an issue.

"An individual, whether Cambodian-American or another national, will be punished if they violate the law," he said.

Misiewicz is accused of accepting gifts and favors to pass along confidential information on ship routes to a Singapore-based company that overcharged the Navy for services to its ships. He has pleaded not guilty in federal court.

Declining to comment on this case specifically, Samuel Locklear, a U.S. naval commander for the Pacific Command, told VOA's Khmer service that such cases are troubling and must be closely examined.

"The aspects of counterintelligence are, in a military organization, are always troubling and always have to be assessed as they occur," he said. "In all of our countries, we all work very hard to ensure that the impacts of these types of things are limited."

Seivirak Inson, meanwhile, is serving 10 years in prison for allegedly selling secrets to Cambodia.

Cambodia has denied having U.S. documents.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.