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US Embassy Staff Sacked Over Alleged Child Pornography

Security guards, terminated over allegations of sharing child pornography, and members of their families, protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 19 2018. (T. Malis/VOA Khmer)

Dozens of Cambodian staff at the U.S. embassy in Cambodia staged a protest, claiming they were wrongfully fired for allegedly sharing child pornography.

In April the U.S. embassy fired 32 staff who claim they were terminated because they were added to a private Facebook group in which one member shared child pornography.

The embassy has not elaborated on the case but the protesters said they were involuntarily added to the group and unfairly terminated on grounds that had seriously damaged their reputations.

Dy Chantou, who told VOA he had worked as a security guard for the embassy for six years, said he was added to a Facebook group without any request for consent.

“One of my friends added me, the program for Facebook automatically [added me] to the messenger group that I did not accept,” he said.

“And I did not see anything, and then [they] charge me with the child pornography.”

Some, like Chantou, said they were simply seeking to have their names cleared while others were demanding compensation for lost income.

The U.S. embassy declined to comment on whether there had been an FBI investigation or any specific details of the terminations in an emailed response to VOA.

“The U.S. government takes incidents involving child pornography and child exploitation very seriously,” the email said, adding they respected the right of the terminated employees to peacefully protest.

Under Cambodian law a person convicted of distributing, displaying, possessing or presenting child pornography faces between 2 to 5 years jail and a fine of between about $1,000 to $2,500.

Ministry of Labor spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.