Trio Rescued in Sihanoukville Now in Phnom Penh for Further Inquiries

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The barbed wire fence surrounding a building complex, called “Jincai” by one worker, where workers are allegedly detained to perpetuate scams, on May 30, 2022. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Two U.S. men and one Indonesian woman who were rescued in Sihanoukville and brought into custody last week have been sent to Phnom Penh for further inquiries, police said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities last week said the three foreigners had sought help from a hotline team led by Interior Minister Sar Kheng, and were rescued from a Buon commune online business where they alleged they had been detained. 

However,  provincial spokesperson Kheang Phearum said at the time there was no sign of detention or torture as officials found no lock on the door and no guard at the front of the building. The three individuals were being questioned by police in the province late last week.

Chuon Narin, chief of Preah Sihanouk provincial police, said on Thursday that the foreign nationals had now been moved to the capital and had been there for three to four days.

“The authorities have sent them to the central security department in Phnom Penh,” Narin said, referring to a unit headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son-in-law Dy Vichea.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the force was continuing to work on the case in Phnom Penh. However, it was still too soon to disclose any findings, he said.

Contacted earlier this week, U.S. Embassy spokesperson Stephanie Arzate said she could not comment on the specific case due to privacy considerations.

But the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad “is the U.S. government’s highest priority” and the embassy “works to provide appropriate consular services as quickly as possible to all U.S. citizens who require them,” Arzate said.

She also noted that the U.S. had highlighted human trafficking crimes related to online scam operations occurring in Cambodia in its recent Trafficking in Persons report, and was “working with a variety of stakeholders in Cambodia to prevent human trafficking, identify and prosecute traffickers, and protect the victims of these crimes.”

Additional reporting by Michael Dickison

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