Japanese Photographer Receives International Support Before Today’s Porn Trial

Letters of support for Go Takayama, the Japanese photojournalist jailed on pornography charges in Siem Reap, kept coming yesterday as “Free Go” letter writing campaign kicked off in the US.

Mr Takayama was arrested along with a Cambodian couple he was photographing embracing in their undergarments on Nov 23 and is being held in provincial jail pending the trio’s trial tomorrow on charges of producing pornography. Mr Takayama, a photojournalist with a publishing history in both his native Japan and the US, where he attended college, was attending the sixth annual Angkor Photo Workshop at the time of his arrest.

“In all of Takayama’s young career, he has never been involved with producing images that could even remotely be construed as pornography,” read the Free Go form letter, written by Matthew Slaby, a Colorado-based photographer and attorney. “To the contrary, Takayama’s background is that of a young man who has consistently held himself to the highest of ethical standards.”

The letter, along with contact information for the Cambodian Embassy in the US and the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia, was posted to the Free Go Facebook pages created on Friday by Mr Takayama’s former Ohio University Classmate Chris Mackler. The page had garnered nearly 600 supporters yesterday a little over 50 hours since being posted. Mr Slaby approached Mr Mackler with the letter after hearing of Mr Takayama’s imprisonment, Mr Mackler said by email yesterday.

“Go is an outstanding photojournalist, kind-hearted and full of integrity,” wrote Mr Mackler. “I hope this is resolved as quickly as possible and he’s released so he can resume his work as a visual journalist.”

The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia issued a statement yesterday urging Siem Reap provincial court to release the 78 photographs Mr Takayama took of the embracing couple, saying “The definition of pornography as imagery that ‘stimulates sexual desire’ opens the law to wide interpretation that could be used imporoperly or erroneously in the case of photojournalism, art or photography.”

The statement went on to say that if the organizers of the workshop Mr Takayama was attended have recounted his story accurately, the “authorities should immediately release him and drop all charges against him.”

The Japanese Embassy declined yesterday to comment on Mr Takayama’s case.

 

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