Cambodia must ensure release of Japanese photographer

New York, December 6, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government of Cambodia to ensure the release of Japanese photographer Go Takayama. According to the English-language Phnom Penh Post and the online magazine for the National Press Photographers Association, Takayama was arrested on November 23 after photographing a married couple inside a home. Undercover police detained him and he was eventually charged with “producing pornography for the purpose of distributing pornographic content,” the Post reported.

The Post reported today that, following intervention from Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, Siem Reap provincial prosecutor Ty Soveinthal has said he will drop the charges and free Takayama after a hearing on Tuesday. “I have already completed my investigation of the Japanese photographer, and I think his punishment should be very minor and he should not be jailed in Cambodia,” Ty Soveinthal said. He also said Takayama would likely be fined 1 million riels (US$245) and would possibly receive a suspended sentence, the paper reported.

“We call on the government to withdraw its charges against Go Takayama and release him,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’a Asia program coordinator. “From his website and the widespread support of his colleagues, it seems clear that he is a responsible photographer caught up in a misunderstanding, and should not be treated as a criminal.”

Takayama had been in Cambodia to take part in a photo workshop at the ruins of Angkor Wat, for the annual Angkor Photo Workshops for young Asian photographers.