Three Frenchmen were deported from Cambodia over the weekend after they were caught taking nude photographs of each other at the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.
The trio – aged in their late teens and early 20s – received six-month suspended sentences, were fined about US$250 each and were immediately deported from the country after they were convicted of producing pornography and for “exposure of sexual organs”. They can not return to Cambodia for four years.
The actions of the three tourists are said to have “deeply offended” Cambodian authorities.
The Cambodia Daily reported Monday that Angkor Wat authorities believe that the Frenchmen did not intend to distribute the images or use them for commercial gain.
“Based on their answers, they had no intention to do business with these pictures, and they used to take photos for fun like this in other countries, too,” said Chau Sun Kerya, spokesperson for Apsara Authority, which oversees the temples in the Angkor Wat complex.
However, prosecutor Koeut Sovannareth told AFP that he believed the men were planning to publish the images.
“They said their goal was to take nude photos to keep as souvenirs, but we believe that their intention was to use the photos in publications such as a calendar,” he said.
The weekend’s developments follow the circulation of photos on social media last week showing what appear to be topless Asian women at the UNESCO World Heritage site. Initially, Sun Kerya condemned the photos, saying it was impossible for Apsara to monitor everything that happens on the massive 40,000 hectare site. She later told the Cambodia Daily that authorities now believe that those images were photoshopped:
“We suspect they are photoshopped pictures, rather than real pictures, because professional photos need at least a half hour to prepare the place, and this is a tourist place, so they could not have done it. It’s impossible.”
Angkor Wat, in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, attracts over 2 million tourists every year and is by far the country’s most popular tourist destination.