PEN International welcomes the release on March 15, 2013, of journalist, human rights campaigner, and director of the independent Beehive Radio Station Mam Sonando.

Background Information

On March 14, 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 him a five-year suspended sentence. Sonando was released on the morning of March 15 after spending eight months in prison and was welcomed by hundreds of supporters waiting outside.

Sonando, 71, was convicted on October 1, 2012, by Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which found him guilty of anti-state offenses and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He was accused of inciting villagers in the Kratie province of 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 has never been to Kratie province, does not know any of the inhabitants, and was abroad in France when the protest took place.

“I would like to say thank you very much for your support,” he told the crowd of supporters who came to greet him upon his release. “It’s been almost one year since I have met with the people. When I spend time with the villagers, I get so excited that I feel like I am in paradise.”

Sonando traveled to his home from the prison in an open car and was greeted by additional supporters who streamed out of their homes to celebrate his release. Local monks blessed him on arrival at home in Kandal province just outside the capital Phnom Penh.

***Thank you to all who sent appeals on this case. No further action is required.***