Len Leng, a former reporter for the now closed Cambodia Daily newspaper, was arrested yesterday outside the supreme court building in Phnom Penh and, although the hearing being held inside was supposed to be open to the public, she was taken into custody on the grounds that she did not have a press pass.
Leng’s suddent arrest was attributable to the fact that the pro-government supreme court had just banned the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the only opposition party represented in parliament, thereby turning Cambodia into a de facto one-party state just months ahead of elections due to be held next July. The authorities are clearly bent on silencing all dissent.
After the arrests of two former Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, in Phnom Penh on 14 November, interior ministry spokesman Kieu Sopheak accused them of trying to improvise a studio in order to send news to RFA’s Washington headquarters. “The court is checking to find the crime,” the spokesman added, referring to the Phnom Penh municipal court’s uncertainty as to what they would be charged with. The two journalists, who deny the allegations, are due to appear in court today.