'Pornographically' dancing foreigners should be deported, not jailed, lawyer says

Ten Westerners including two Canadian women arrested in Cambodia for allegedly posting photos on social media showing themselves engaged in sexually suggestive dancing may have offended local standards of morality, but should be expelled from the country rather than jailed, their lawyer said Tuesday.

2 Canadian women among several foreigners in Cambodia facing charges of producing pornographic photos

In this photo, issued by Cambodian National Police, a group of, who are accused of 'dancing pornographically' at a party in Siem Reap town. Five British nationals, two Canadians, one Norwegian, one New Zealander and one from the Netherlands are being held. (Cambodian National Police via AP)

Ten Westerners including two Canadian women arrested in Cambodia for allegedly posting photos on social media showing themselves engaged in sexually suggestive dancing may have offended local standards of morality, but should be expelled from the country rather than jailed, their lawyer said Tuesday.

The 10 — from Canada, the U.K., Norway, the Netherlands and New Zealand — were arrested last Thursday when police raided a party at a rented villa in the northwestern town of Siem Reap and found people "dancing pornographically" at an event organizers called a pub crawl. Siem Reap is near the famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

A news release from the Cambodian National Police lists Eden Kazoleas, 20, and Jessica Drolet, 25, and eight men as being detained in the northwestern town of Siem Reap.

Unsure of jail conditions

Lawyer Sourng Sophea said he did not know what conditions were like for his detained clients since he had not yet met them in jail. They face up to a year in prison if convicted, and if they go to trial, it would likely happen in the next few months. He said the families of some of the detainees have contacted him by phone from overseas, but none had come yet to visit.

Sourng Sophea said some of the photos posted by his clients showed them at a party, some drinking by a swimming pool and some of the women in bikinis, but none showed them having sex or exposing themselves. According to the law, he said, they should be deported or have their visas cancelled, but should not be held in pretrial detention.

"I admit that they have done something wrong according to morality in Cambodian society, but their crimes did not warrant them being charged or put in jail," Sourng Sophea said by phone.

He said that when the 10 had been taken into custody but not yet charged, he sent a three-page note to the Siem Reap provincial police and prosecutors, asserting that they had not committed any serious wrongdoing, were innocent of producing pornography, and should be released, but was turned down.

With files from CBC News