Two Western tourists who first saw Cambodia’s unrest on CNN will now be leaving the country voluntarily instead of being deported for joining an opposition demonstration.
Matthew Hurley, a 21-year-old American, and Christian Heiko Durrfeld, 28, a German, were arrested and detained with 20 others Monday after joining a 2,000-member opposition march near Mao Tse-Tung Boulevard. The pair, who arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday after visiting Angkor Wat, were waving UN and American flags during the protest.
Both will leave Cambodia as soon as flights can be arranged, an official at the US Embassy said Tuesday.
Since the pair agreed to leave, the event is not considered a deportation, said Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
Expatriates who met Hurley and Durrfeld said they were average tourists who were attracted to the demonstrations on television. The room where Hurley and Durrfeld stayed held boots, a backpack, a Lonely Planet Southeast Asia guide book, a map of Phnom Penh and three books of photos.
Some of the photos show the two posing in the midst of opposition demonstrations, pro-democracy posters behind them.
US and German Embassy officials cleared the pair’s belongings Tuesday, said Painsy Pon, manager of the Capital Guest House where Hurly and Durrfeld stayed. At 5:30 pm, two immigration police accompanied Durrfeld to the Capital, where he had left his passport with Painsy Pon. The hotel manager had been arranging a Vietnamese visa.
Cameraman Glenn Shadbolt, who met them at a protest, said he heard one of them say, “Saw it on CNN, so we came over.”
Since Tuesday morning, Hurley and Durrfeld have been held in the custody of the immigration police near Pochentong Airport, said Meach Sophana, deputy director of the immigration police.
A US Embassy official visited Hurley on Monday night and said he was being treated well. He said Hurley would be leaving, probably for Bangkok, “as soon as is practical,” adding it would most likely be today.
The German Embassy was unavailable for comment.