Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 4 News List

US embassy staff in Cambodia fired over alleged porn sharing

Reuters, PHNOM PENH

The US embassy in Cambodia has fired 32 people after they were allegedly caught sharing pornographic material in a non-official chat group, several sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Four sources told reporters that pornographic videos and photographs, including some featuring people under the age of 18, were shared in a Facebook Messenger chat group.

Some of the images were seen by the wife of an embassy worker who reported the incident to an official at the embassy, the sources said, adding that the matter was then forwarded to the FBI.

“They had their identification cards taken and some of their phones checked,” a former US embassy staff member said on condition of anonymity.

The 32 embassy workers included Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans, he said, adding that many were guards and some were clerical staff.

There were no diplomats among them, the sources said.

Two of the sources, both of whom work at the embassy, confirmed the dismissals.

The dismissals come at a time of tension between the two nations over US criticism of a crackdown on dissent by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his anger over what he says have been US efforts to undermine his rule.

The US has denied interfering in Cambodian politics. The Cambodian government has not commented on the dismissals.

Cambodia has been notorious for child prostitution, and several foreigners have been convicted and jailed for child abuse in recent years.

An embassy spokesman said he could not comment and referred queries to the US Department of State.

“We note only that the embassy has clear and firm policies regarding appropriate employee conduct, as well as an appeal process for employees who believe they were unfairly terminated,” the department said in an e-mailed statement.

Reuters could not contact any of the workers who had been fired. The FBI could not be reached for comment and Cambodian police spokesman Kirth Chantharith also could not be reached for comment.

It was not immediately possible to determine the number of people employed at the embassy.

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