[Update] Kampong Thom province’s online journalist convicted for 2 years in prison.
On November 7, 2023, Kampong Thom provincial court sentenced Mr. Soeur Sochea, an online journalist who formerly worked at TNM News, to two years in prison on charges of extortion. However, the court decided to release him on bail.
Sochea, who now works for another online publication, ASEAN Daily News, said that the conviction was baseless and unjust since he did not act as he was charged.
“The complaint was written according to their own opinion and had no concrete evidence” Sochea said. “I have evidence and proof, but they did not accept my evidence. I do not understand why.”
Sochea was previously arrested on May 10 by the Kampong Thom military police and taken into custody on charges of extortion. He was released on June 1, 2023.
In the previous quarterly report, Sem Bora, the publisher of TNM News, told CamboJA that Sochea had only started working for the outlet in 2021, but the charges date back to 2020.
Bora said that the charges against Sochea stem from a series of reports he had written about illegal logging in Kampong Thom province.
Sochea was sued by two people, Sun Vichet, and a man only known as Hengny, both known to be timber dealers in Kampong Thom province for extortion. He was charged on the provisions of Article 363 and 364 of the Criminal Code.
Sochea said that the complaint was based on four money transfers that the plaintiff sent him as evidence to sue him for extortion.
Sochea’s lawyer, Un Chanthol, confirmed the conviction, saying that the decision to appeal will depend on his client’s wishes. Chanthol added: “It is the right of Mr. Soeur Sochea to file an appeal.”
Sochea confirmed that he will file an appeal for justice.