HONG KONG — In a sign that President Trump’s criticism of the news media may be having a ripple effect overseas, a government spokesman in Cambodia has cited the American president in threatening to shutter foreign news outlets, including some that receive money from Washington.
The spokesman, Phay Siphan, said that foreign news groups, including the United States-financed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, should “reconsider” how they broadcast — or risk a government response if their reports spread disinformation or threatened peace and stability.
The White House decision to bar several news outlets, including The New York Times, CNN and Politico, from a briefing last week, Mr. Phay Siphan said in a Facebook post on Saturday, “is based on the power and mandate of the state.”
The decision, he wrote “sends a clear message” that Mr. Trump “sees that news broadcast by those media outlets does not reflect the truth, which is the responsibility of professional journalists.”
“Freedom of expression,” he wrote, “is subject to the law and must respect the state’s power.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed Mr. Phay Siphan’s remarks but stopped short of threatening to close problematic news outlets, according to a report in The Phnom Penh Post newspaper.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in office for 32 years, has relied on brutality and intimidation to stay in power, according to rights groups. Critics say that his government is now using Mr. Trump’s words to justify a crackdown on critical news coverage before two elections, adding that the move could herald a new tactic in efforts to suppress free speech by governments in Southeast Asia and beyond.
The Facebook comments “show pretty clearly that as soon as there are perceptions that the United States has wavered on its commitment to press freedom, then countries with authoritarian tendencies are very quick to abandon any pretense of allowing the media to operate freely,” said Shawn W. Crispin, the Bangkok-based Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan advocacy group based in New York.
Mr. Crispin said he worried that Mr. Phay Siphan’s comments would “open a can of worms” in countries around Southeast Asia where journalists already face official intimidation, such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Representatives for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia pushed back against Mr. Phay Siphan’s comments on Tuesday.
“For decades, Voice of America has been a model of the very American bedrock of values of a free and independent press,” Amanda Bennett, the broadcaster’s director, said in an email. “Those are the principles we have long lived and worked by especially in places around the world where those values are under attack.”
Rohit Mahajan, the director of public affairs for Radio Free Asia, said that the outlet planned to “continue bringing the people of Cambodia independent, credible and honest journalism.”
“The government’s efforts to deter and discourage R.F.A. and our esteemed media colleagues only further underscore the need for free press in Cambodia,” Mr. Mahajan said in an email.
He said that Radio Free Asia broadcasts in local languages via radio, internet and sometimes television in six countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea and Vietnam. But he said it had accredited news operations only in Cambodia, where it has 25 reporters, as well as in Hong Kong and in Myanmar.
In 2012, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia were summoned to a closed-door meeting with Cambodian officials to discuss their “professionalism,” according to an account by the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. Topics at the meeting included news coverage of the 2012 killing of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian environmental activist, and the sentencing that year of Mam Sonando, the owner of a Cambodian radio station that had criticized Mr. Hun Sen, to 20 years in prison on charges of instigating insurrection and other offenses.
In a speech on Monday in Phnom Penh, the capital, Mr. Hun Sen appeared to liken his views on the news media to those of Mr. Trump.
Cambodia respects rights linked to the rule of law “but not the rights of anarchy,” he said, according to the Phnom Penh Post account of his remarks. Referring to the barring of the American journalists from the White House briefing, Mr. Hun Sen said that “Donald Trump sees them as causing anarchy,” The Post reported.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mr. Phay Siphan said that Cambodia had not taken any specific retaliatory actions against foreign news organizations. “We have no intention to expel anyone,” he said.
But he also urged the organizations to stay on the “right track” and said that he planned to monitor their reports to ensure that they did not violate Cambodia’s criminal code.
Jay R. Raman, a public affairs officer at the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, referred a request for comment on Mr. Phay Siphan’s Facebook post to the Cambodian government.
“The United States has long supported freedom of the press and considers it to be fundamental to any democracy,” Mr. Raman said.
Cambodia’s main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, nearly defeated Mr. Hun Sen’s party, the Cambodian People’s Party, in a 2013 general election. Members of the opposition party are now facing lawsuits and other challenges that critics say are part of an attempt by Mr. Hun Sen to weaken his rivals before local elections this year and a general election in 2018.
Son Chhay, the parliamentary whip for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said he saw Mr. Phay Siphan’s warning to the news media as part of that broader effort. “The public is on the opposition’s side, and it worries the government a lot,” he said.
Although it is too early to tell how seriously to take Mr. Phay Siphan’s threats against the foreign news media, any crackdown would have an “incalculable” and chilling effect on reporters who work for domestic news organizations, said Sophal Ear, a Cambodia expert at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
“They could be jailed or worse,” he said. “There was a time in the 1990s when reporters ended up dead with alarming regularity.”