Vietnamese Tourists Released After Drone Flies Near Palace

Three Vietnamese tourists were briefly detained on Saturday for flying a drone over the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, a week after a Hong Kong national was similarly arrested and released without charge for the same offense.

Thon Kaony, police chief in Daun Penh district’s Chey Chumneah commune, said Sunday that Tran Minh Hung, 27; Nong Minh Buong, 24; and Nguyen Dung Anh, 24, had been arrested by palace guards and handed over to commune police at about 9:40 a.m. on Saturday.

“Three men flew a drone from Veal Mean square over the Royal Palace compound to take a video,” he said. “We sent them to the [Interior Ministry’s] internal security department to continue the legal procedures.”

Seang Sen, director of the department, confirmed that the trio was arrested and released after questioning.

“They said they are just tourists and came for the first time and did not know about the rules in Cambodia,” he said. “We inspected the reality and found…nothing affecting national security so we decided to release them.”

Mr. Sen said that there have been five cases of tourists being arrested in Phnom Penh for flying drones without prior approval since the municipal government banned the devices in February.

He said that the problem could be mitigated if authorities installed signs in public places to inform tourists about the ban.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said that the municipality had already disseminated information, and that tourists’ claims of ignorance were not reasonable.

“They should understand which areas in each country it is banned to use drones,” he said Sunday, explaining that similar bans exist in other countries.

Mr. Dimanche said there were no immediate plans to tell tourists not to use unlicensed drones.

“If there are more cases related to tourists, we will ask the tour agencies to disseminate information about the ban to their guests,” he said.

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