Cambodia’s first known Internet pornographer was arrested Wednesday and likely faces deportation for violating human trafficking laws, police and government officials said Thursday.
Dan Sandler, a 35-year-old American, is being held in Don Penh police station, according to Nget Saret, a municipal court prosecutor handling the case. Police plan to formally charge Sandler today under article 7 of the penal code, which carries a penalty of between one and five years in prison, he said.
But Mu Sochua, minister of Women’s Affairs, who filed the complaints that resulted in Sandler’s arrest, said she expects him to be tried and deported. ‘‘I have contacted the US Embassy, and the US ambassador himself has agreed to escort him to the airport after the trial,’’ she said. ‘‘To allow him or anyone to exploit women is against our values, and it’s a great obstacle to the social and economic development of Cambodia.’’
Sandler went online with a graphic website titled ‘‘Rape Camp’’ earlier this month. The site depicted semi-nude women, tied up, gagged and performing sexual acts. He planned to launch a live bondage sex show on the Internet next month.
But word of his plans quickly spread through the NGO community, and he soon garnered international media attention. Government officials were outraged.
Mu Sochua said she filed complaints last week with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice, and sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen. She said she asked the Ministry of Interior to ‘‘try him according to the law’’ and then deport him.
NGO workers applauded the arrest, but cautioned that it should not be seen as a reason to restrict use of the Internet.
‘‘The fact that Mr Sandler put his obscene material on the Internet is not the point,’’ said Bill Herod, coordinator of the NGO Forum information project. ‘‘The point is Mr Sandler produced his material in Cambodia and paid individuals here to perform certain acts in apparent violation of the law.”
Herod was contacted by Sandler months ago, and had tried in vain to dissuade him from launching his scheme. At one point in July, he warned Sandler by e-mail that ‘‘if you persist in this wild plan, you will be arrested, fined and deported after you serve hard time in a prison you wouldn’t want to drive by in a tour bus. That is not a threat, that is a statement of fact.’’
Police obtained searched Sandler’s house Thursday, a day after arresting him, and confiscated a computer, pornographic photos, compact discs and a portable video camera, which will be used as evidence.
‘‘We sent a report this morning to the Ministry of Interior and the US Embassy,’’ Pol Pithey, Don Penh police chief, said Thursday. ‘‘We don’t know what the next step is so we are just waiting.’’
Officials at the US Embassy declined to comment on the case. But according to Nget Saret, a representative of the embassy was present during the Wednesday raid. In an interview last week, Sandler said action against his site by the government would violate trade agreements with the US.
and that he would take his case to the US Embassy and the US Congress.