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Uon Chhin, left, and Yeang Sothearin, former journalists for Radio Free Asia, leave prison in Cambodia after being freed on bail. Both still face espionage charges. (Reuters/Samrang Pring)

Cambodian journalists released on bail but espionage charges remain

August 21, 2018 12:27 PM ET

Bangkok, August 21, 2018--Two former Radio Free Asia journalists were granted bail in Cambodia today by Phnom Penh's Municipal Court, according to news reports. Uon Chhin, a videographer, and Yeang Sothearin, previously a news editor at the U.S. Congress-funded station, were arrested on November 14, 2017 and held in pre-trial detention until their release today. The court denied previous requests for bail.

Both journalists are charged with espionage under Article 445 of the criminal code, for allegedly "providing information that is destructive to national defense to a foreign state," and with producing pornography. They denied both charges, the reports said.

"CPJ welcomes today's release on bail of Cambodian journalists Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, but they never should have been detained in the first place," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. "Authorities should drop these bogus charges and stop harassing journalists with frivolous accusations."

Court spokesman Y Rin said today that the charges against the journalists would remain and that they would be required to appear in court for hearings, according to reports. It wasn't immediately clear when court proceedings would begin.

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