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Freed Cambodian journalist thanks Amnesty

    April 29, 2013

    Prisoner of conscience Mam Sonando has walked free from trumped-up charges designed to silence the Cambodian journalist.

    Mam Sonado is free thanks to you!

    Cambodia’s appeals court overturned the most serious anti-state convictions and the twenty year sentence against him, and suspended his remaining sentence.

    Amnesty International met with Mam Sonando in Phnom Penh, and he asked we share his thanks with Amnesty supporters:
     

     "To hear supporters outside the courtroom and to see supporters inside, including human rights organizations and diplomats, gave me such encouragement. They were supporting democracy and human rights, not just me.

    I want to thank everyone for joining together for my release. Thank you to Amnesty International’s members for protecting my freedom.

    The nightmare of being falsely accused and imprisoned had turned into a wonderful dream; bad to good, where I could see into the people’s hearts and the world caring about justice.

    My goal remains the same: democracy and respect for human rights in Cambodia. My case has become a symbol of unity to strengthen democracy, rule of law and human rights in Cambodia."

     - Prisoner of conscience Mam Sonando

     

    About Mam Sonando

    Mam Sonando, 72, is a well-known and popular Cambodian journalist. He owns Beehive Radio – one of Cambodia’s few independent radio stations – and heads the Association of Democrats, which promotes human rights and democracy and helps poor communities.

    He was arrested in July last year, accused of being behind a plot for a village in eastern Cambodia to secede. In reality he was silenced for speaking out against the villagers' long-running land conflict with a powerful company. His arrest followed his report broadcast on Beehive Radio about a complaint at the International Criminal Court, which accuses Cambodia’s government of displacing thousands of people through forced evictions.

    Amnesty International attended his four-day hearing. No evidence was presented that proved he had done anything wrong. When verdicts were announced on 1 October 2012, there was shock and disbelief in the court room as Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for “instigating insurrection” and other offences.

    Amnesty recognised Mam Sonando as a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. We joined others in Cambodia and abroad to campaign for his release.

    Our supporters responded to an Urgent Action issued about his case and wrote letters to Cambodia’s government. We asked foreign governments to raise the case with Cambodia, and we raised awareness of Man Sonando's case when US President Barack Obama and other leaders visited Cambodia for the ASEAN and East Asia summits in November 2012.