10 foreigners have been accused by Cambodian officials of violating the country’s anti-pornography laws, after police raided a party in Siem Reap, near the famous ruins of Angkor Wat. The group of Cambodia backpackers, which includes at least five UK nationals, as well as two Canadians, a Norwegian and a New Zealander, is accused of “preparing pornographic materials,” a charge which could put them in prison for up to a year if found they’re guilty.
“Honestly, it was really confusing. Everyone was confused. They raided, rounded us up — there were about 80 to 100 people at this party. Some of them were tourists. There were about 30 of them (police officers),” said the suspects.
On the Cambodian National Police website, photos of the “pornographic” acts in question were posted, along with confirmation of the number of people arrested.
A Prosecutor from Siem Reap provincial court, Samrith Sokhon, told The Associated Press that those charged had shared the pictures on social media. “Any people producing pornography is contrary to Cambodia’s traditions,” he said.
A spokesman for the Cambodian Interior Ministry, Khieu Sopheak, denied the arrest was part of a nationwide crackdown.
“This operation was taken under Siem Reap provincial authority. We welcome tourists but sometimes people commit a mistake against the culture and tradition of Cambodia and the law gets involved,” said Sopheak, adding that, “well behaved tourists should not worry.”
President of Cambodia Law Services, Sam Onn Kong, told CNN he didn’t believe what the backpackers were alleged to have done was actually illegal under Cambodian law.
“It’s not illegal to pretend to have sex with your clothes on, (but) it depends on other relevant factors like your intention and outcome,” he said. “I don’t think the pictures constitute pornography.”