Tuesday, December 7, 2010

OU VisCom graduate acquitted of all charges in Cambodia

An Ohio University photojournalism graduate who was arrested in Cambodia for allegedly producing pornographic content has been acquitted of all charges and released after a hearing on Tuesday.Go Takayama, who is originally from Japan, was arrested Nov. 23 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, after taking pictures of a married couple for a project while participating in the Angkor Photo Workshop.

His camera was confiscated and 78 of his photographs found in the memory card were taken as evidence.

Based on those 78 images, local authorities accused Takayama of producing pornographic content. The photos, which depict a couple hugging and holding each other, show no nudity or explicit sexual activity, according to the Angkor Photo Workshop.

The workshop sent out a press release Tuesday (Dec. 7) morning, announcing that the Siem Reap Provincial Court acquitted Takayama, as well as the couple he was photographing, of all charges after a two-hour hearing on Tuesday.

"The verdict was announced in the afternoon at around 3:30 p.m., during which Judge Sok Leng said that based on the evidence and statements, all three parties were not guilty of the pornography charges that had been brought against them," the release from Angkor workshop spokesperson Jessica Lim stated.

Lim said that the judge also ordered that Takayama have his camera and memory card returned.

Takayama's attorney, Sourng Sophea, said that he was glad that the "court gave us justice today."

Takayama and the married couple were released from prison at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday (Cambodia time).

"We would like to express our thanks to the overwhelming support that has poured in from around the world," Lim stated in the release.

The acquittal was expected after it was revealed by News Photographer Magazine Monday that Cambodian Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith had said he was convinced of Takayama's innocence and was sending a letter to the Cambodian court requesting his immediate release.

Lim said previously that while there was no nudity during the photo shoot, the man had his shirt off and halfway through the shoot the woman removed her blouse as well. The man wore shorts and the woman wore pants, and there was no explicit sexual activity during the shoot, she said. The theme of Takayama's project was "enduring love," and Takayama had stated to others participating in the workshop that his goal was to show visuals of strong, possessive love.

Takayama graduated from OU in 2008 with degrees in visual communications and political science. He has won numerous awards, and his work has been published in local outlets such as Southeast Ohio magazine, the Soul of Athens and The Post at OU.


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