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Cambodian rights activists released from jail

[JURIST] Four Cambodian civil rights leaders arrested on defamation charges [JURIST report] were unexpectedly granted bail and released from jail Tuesday. Leaders from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights [advocacy website], along with a journalist and union leader were released pending trial, after intense international pressure and a request by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] that the four be freed. Hun Sen, who just last week defended the criminal defamation lawsuits [JURIST report] referred to the prisoners' release as a "present" for visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill [official profile]. The United States has condemned the arrests [State Dept. press briefing transcript] and the recent rights crackdown which has drawn widespread international criticism [Amnesty press release]. Almost a dozen people have been arrested or face punishment for criminal defamation or other criminal offenses. AFP has more.

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