Cambodian leader shuts down independent media outlet

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday ordered one of the handful of independent media broadcasters to shut down for publishing an article he said intentionally slandered his son in connection with the country’s relief assistance to earthquake victims in Turkey.

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The article published by VOD, which also owns a radio station, centered around the signing of a government decision to donate $100,000 to Turkey. It alleged that Lt. Gen. Hun Manet, an elder son of Hun Sen who is also the commander of the army and has been nominated by the ruling party to succeed his father in future elections, had signed the document on Hun Sen’s behalf.

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Hun Sen had earlier given VOD 72 hours to verify the facts with the Information Ministry and to apologize to Hun Manet and the government. On Sunday evening, Hun Sen nevertheless ordered the ministry to revoke VOD’s license and said he cannot accept a letter of apology offered by the media organization.

Hun Sen said the article misinterpreted the facts and that only the prime minister has the authority to make decisions on foreign aid.

VOD said it was an unintentional mistake.

Hun Sen said VOD had until 10 a.m. Monday to cease broadcasting, and foreign countries who fund the organization should get their money back.

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for decades and has launched a sweeping crackdown on opponents and independent media.

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