Anti-human-trafficking police on Monday arrested a 35-year-old U.S. national and director of an evangelical Christian group in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, though they would not reveal what crime the American was suspected of having committed.
Local news website Cambodia Express News reported that the suspect, Daniel Johnson, was arrested at 9 a.m. at the Home of Hope orphanage in Sansam Kosal village in Boeng Tumpong commune following a joint operation involving police and the U.S.’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the organization’s website, 30 children are resident at the orphanage.
Pol Piethey, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking department, confirmed that the suspect had been arrested and was being held by anti-human trafficking police, but he declined to comment on the nature of the charges against him.
“We are still working on the case. You can wait until tomorrow to report on it,” he said.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, referred questions regarding the arrest to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith, who could not be reached for comment. Municipal anti-human trafficking police chief Keo Thea also declined to comment on the case.
Yi Moden, deputy director of field operations for anti-pedophile NGO Action pour les Enfants, said that his organization could not comment on the case at this time.
“It is difficult for us as police do not want us to reveal anything about the case as it still under investigation,” he said.
The Home of Hope orphanage is one of a number of projects run by Mr. Johnson’s organization, Hope Transition, which is also listed as a Christian mission of the Skyline Baptist Church in North Bend, Oregon.
The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to requests for comment on the case.