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Bailed Siem Reap foreigners back home after ‘pornography’ charges

Jessica Drolet, 26 (right) and Eden Kazoleas (middle), 19, give a brief press conference upon arriving at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after having been jailed in Cambodia for two weeks. Facebook
Jessica Drolet, 26 (right) and Eden Kazoleas (middle), 19, give a brief press conference upon arriving at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after having been jailed in Cambodia for two weeks. Facebook

Bailed Siem Reap foreigners back home after ‘pornography’ charges

Seven foreigners who were granted bail last week after being arrested for so-called “pornographic dancing” at a party in Siem Reap have left Cambodia, according to a court spokesman.

One of their representatives, lawyer Ouch Sopheaktra, said bail had been granted without the seven having to pay a deposit, and was given with two conditions: “First, they are not allowed to stay [in Cambodia], and second, they are not allowed to do any activity which leads to public disorder,” he said. “It was not mentioned whether the charge was dropped.”

The seven were arrested along with three others on January 25 at a pool party in Siem Reap organised by a group called “Let’s Get Wet”. They were provisionally charged with “producing pornography”, despite a provincial official later acknowledging they had not.

Yin Srang, Siem Reap Provincial Court spokesperson, said the seven wouldn’t face trial in Cambodia. “They were granted bail with the condition that they must leave Cambodia and are not allowed to return,” he said. “The passports were also given back and now they have all left Cambodia already.”

The two Canadians in the group, Jessica Drolet, 26, and Eden Kazoleas, 19, arrived in their home country on Friday night, according to local news reports. In a video by the Canadian Press filmed at the airport, Kazoleas called the experience “terrifying” and expressed her disappointment with the representation of the case in the press, denying having taken part in anything “pornographic”.

“I’m very happy to be home, I’m grateful to be in Canada. I look forward to seeing my family, and my parents, who have done absolutely everything they could to bring me home,” she said. “I was equally lucky to have Jessica in there with me, and as much as I wish she didn’t have to go through it, I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Read more: Charges against foreigners over ‘pornography’ are latest blow to Siem Reap businesses

Canadian Francesca Tibollo, who had helped negotiate their release with authorities and accompanied them from Cambodia to Canada, reiterated their innocence. “At the daytime pool party, there was no nudity at all,” she said in the video. “Some attendees were fully clothed, others in bathing suits. Eden and Jessica did not and were not producing pornography.”

Tibollo could not be reached yesterday.

Three foreigners – one Dutch, one Norwegian and one British – remain in custody. Lawyer Sopheaktra said he would request bail for them next, as they had organised the party. Dutch news reported that Dutch citizen Job van der Wel was receiving consular assistance from the British Embassy, as no Dutch embassy is present in Cambodia. The British Embassy could not be reached yesterday.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

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