English PEN joins the Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC) of PEN International in welcoming the release on 15 March 2013 of journalist, human rights campaigner and director of the independent Beehive Radio Station Mam Sonando.
On 14 March 2013 Cambodia’s Court of Appeal dismissed the charges of ‘insurrection’ and ‘incitement to take up arms against the state’ against Mam Sonando. However, the court convicted him of ‘illegal logging’ and handed down a five-year suspended sentence. Sonando was released on the morning of 15 March, having spent eight months in prison, and was welcomed by hundreds of supporters waiting outside.
Mam Sonando, 72, was convicted on 1 October 2012 by Phnom Penh Municipal Court which found him guilty of anti-state offences and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He was accused of inciting villagers in Kratie province in north-eastern Cambodia to protest a government order to seize land in the village and transfer it to a private holding company. A teenage girl was shot dead by security forces during the protest. Mam Sonando, who has never been to Kratie province and does not know any of the villagers, was abroad in France when the protest took place.
For further information see:
- English PEN bulletin on Mam Sonando’s initial conviction.
- Radio Free Asia’s report on his release.
- IFEX photo gallery of the celebration for his release.
Thank you to all who sent appeals on this case.