WASHINGTON — The U.S. is strongly criticizing Cambodia for banning radio stations from carrying foreign-produced programming in the local Khmer language during the campaign for next month's elections.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Friday that's a serious infringement of press freedom and such restrictions call into question whether the July 28 vote will be free and fair.

The Ministry of Information directive, dated Tuesday, orders all FM stations to stop rebroadcasting radio programs from foreign stations through the monthlong campaign period that began Thursday, until election day.

Radio Free Asia said its Khmer service has been dropped by 10 stations. It called the directive "the most sweeping and stunning frontal assault on media freedom in Cambodia in recent memory."

Voice of America also condemned it.

Both networks are U.S. government funded.