Three “journalists” from media that have never published a story were arrested and interrogated in Siem Reap province on Tuesday for allegedly trying to extort money from public officials and businesspeople attending the Water Festival.
Police said that the trio took pictures of the VIPs with a telephoto lens, then printed them out and insisted that each of the subjects pay between $50 and $200 for the pictures. The photographers allegedly warned their subjects that they would have to recoup their printing expenses by selling the images.
“They were arrested after coercing the photo subjects … into buying the photos that they had taken for a high price,” said Liv Sokhun, the director of Siem Reap’s provincial information department. “This act contradicts the professional ethics of a journalist.”
The reporters, Meas Daro, 26, from Kakti Bandit Khmer; Meas Theary, 30, from Cambodia For Peace and Heng Vandy, 28, from Freedom of Cambodia, had press cards from the Ministry of Information, but no bylines to speak of. The three organisations are reportedly based in Kandal province.
According to Sokhun, six photographers were also arrested on Monday evening for similar acts. All were given a warning and released after they thumbprinted an injunction against doing more of the same.