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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 12:49 GMT
Cambodia activist freed on bail
By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Hun Sen, 3 Jan
Hun Sen denies Cambodia is becoming autocratic
One of the Cambodian human rights activists who had been jailed pending trial for defaming the government has been released on bail.

Yeng Virak was one of three men arrested in connection with a banner displayed at a rally to mark International Human Rights Day.

The UN and international donors and rights organisations strongly criticised the government's action.

Wednesday's release was the first softening of the government's position.

Yeng Virak's lawyer had applied for bail more in hope than expectation. For the first time this year, the rights worker will be able to spend the night at his family home instead of prison.

Yeng Virak was originally charged because he was one of the organisers of the International Human Rights Day rally.

But his detention was a surprise to many as he was thought to have good relations with the authorities.

His fellow rights workers are delighted that Yeng Virak has been released. Some have speculated that the move is an attempt by the government to mollify its critics at home and abroad.

But four men remain in jail on defamation charges and earlier in the day Prime Minister Hun Sen seemed in no mood to compromise.

He described himself as a victim and argued that the arrested men had slandered all Cambodians by attacking the government they had elected.

Cambodia clamps down on dissent
07 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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05 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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31 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
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22 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Sam Rainsy
03 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Cambodia
08 Jan 05 |  Country profiles

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