Cambodia’s strongman is freeing his political prisoners. Why?

Activists and human rights campaigners in Cambodia have had a lot to celebrate in the past two weeks.

First came the surprise pardon last week of Tep Vanny, an award-winning land rights defender who was set free after spending two years in prison on charges that many say were politically motivated. Then, it was announced last week on Tuesday that two Radio Free Asia reporters in prison awaiting trial since their arrest in November would be released on bail.

Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, the RFA journalists, had been charged with “espionage” and “producing pornography”, allegations that many Cambodia observers have dismissed as bogus.

The case against Vanny, activists argue, was equally trumped up.

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