Furor Grows as Photojournalist Detained on Porn Charges

Statements of support for Go Takayama, a photojournalist jailed in Siem Reap on charges of producing pornography, flowed into Cambodia over the past few days as word of his detainment made it back to his native Japan and to the US, where he was educated.

Mr Takayama, a participant in the sixth annual Angkor Photo Workshop, was arrested on Nov 23 in Siem Reap City’s Svay Dangkom commune during a photoshoot during which a Cambodian couple in undergarments passionately embraced. Mr Takayama and the couple he was photographing were charged the next day with producing pornography and provisionally detained in provincial prison.

“We have learned that [Mr] Takayama is currently in your care, and we would like to respectfully offer to you our genuine assurance that [Mr] Takayama is a respected and professionally-trained documentary photojournalist,” wrote Donald Winslow, editor of New Photographer magazine, the official publication of the National Press Photographers Association, a professional organization that credentialed Mr Takayama.

Mr Winslow’s message, along with similar letters from the director of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communications, the chairman of the Japan-China Photo Cultural Exchange Association and the editor of the Evansville (Ohio) Courier & Press, where Mr Takayama interned, are being collected by Angkor Photo Workshop coordinator Jessica Lim in advance of Mr Takayama’s trial on Tuesday. And “Free Go,” a Facebook page created Friday by an OU classmate of Mr Takayama’s, garnered 344 supporters in about 30 hours.

In a statement issued on Friday in response to media reports containing “grossly inaccurate information,” Ms Lim said police confiscated Mr Takayama’s camera and a memory card containing 78 pictures they claimed to be pornographic.

Sourng Sophea, Mr Takayama’s lawyer, said yesterday that the photographs were far from licentious.

“I saw the 78 photos, and they don’t show any sexual organs,” Mr Sophea said.

But Siem Reap provincial anti-human trafficking bureau chief Sun Bunhang said that Mr Takayama had violated articles 38 and 39 of Cambodia’s anti-human trafficking law. The articles define pornography as material “depicting a genital or…which excites or stimulates sexual desires” and mandates that producers of pornography be imprisoned for between a month and a year and pay a fine of up to $500.

“In the pictures, they weren’t showing their genitals, but they were showing very sexual acts,” said Mr Bunhang.

 

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