An RFA Khmer Service reporter who Cambodian authorities say improperly entered a prison with opposition politicians visiting jailed party members received a court summons on Saturday for questioning.
Khmer service Deputy Director Vuthy Huot, also known as Chun Chanboth, was ordered to appear at Phnom Penh Municipality Court on May 2 for questioning. The summons, obtained by RFA, says he "made a false statement to disguise his identity to access the prison" during an April 19 visit to Prey Sar Prison.
Vuthy Huot has rejected the accusation, saying he signed in under his own name and was well known by Prey Sar prison guards,
The summons was issued by Phnom Penh Deputy Prosecutor Seang Sok and dated April 21, according to a copy of the document seen by RFA.
On April 19, Vuthy Huot said he had gone at first to the prison on his own to visit Kim Sok, a jailed political and social commentator. His visit coincided with that of a delegation of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials to meet with 16 jailed party officials and activists.
“But I was not allowed to see (Kim Sok) as I was told I would need a court order unless I was a member of his immediate family,” he told RFA after the visit.
“I then left the prison’s security checkpoint. But by a coincidence the [CNRP] officials arrived, and I asked them if I could enter along with them,” said Vuthy Huot.
He said he had not attempted to disguise himself on entry.
“The prison guards knew me well, and addressed me directly as Chun Chanboth,” he said, adding, “I even registered in my real name.”
Following the visit the Cambodian Interior Ministry banned future visits to political opposition officials and activists, and ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak said the CNRP had “cheated” prison authorities by including the reporter in their party after he had earlier been turned away.
But CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua said the reporter had entered on his own.
“We have no idea why he was allowed in,” she said on April 19.
The Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday that Cambodia's Prison Department had produced a report saying Vuthy Huot had violated the Criminal Code by using a identity different than his public identity and had broken privacy provisions under the Press Code.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Paul Eckert.