Taiwanese YouTubers get 2 years for Cambodia kidnapping stunt

Sihanoukville court sentences pair on charges of incitement.
By RFA Khmer
2024.02.16
Taiwanese YouTubers get 2 years for Cambodia kidnapping stunt Chen Neng Chuan, center left, and Lu Tsu Hsien of Taiwan stand with police during a press conference in Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province after the pair was arrested for streaming video of a fake kidnapping, Feb. 15, 2024.
(Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration via AFP)

A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced two Taiwanese influencers to two years in prison on incitement charges after the pair staged and broadcast a fake kidnapping. 

Chen Neng Chuan, 31, who goes by the handle Goodnight Chicken, and Lu Tsu Hsien, 34, who goes by Anow, were arrested on Wednesday after they live-streamed two videos to YouTube on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 in which Chen claimed to have broken into a scam compound, been beaten and imprisoned, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. 

The videos made headlines in Taiwan, where local media reported on his alleged abduction. 

According to a statement from the Sihanoukville provincial court, both men were sentenced to two years in prison and given a 4 million riel fine ($1,000.) The court statement said the pair came to  “Cambodia in an attempt to produce fake videos on human trafficking, detention and torture, rape and human organs selling.” 

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Materials that two Taiwanese men allegedly used to stage fake kidnapping videos are shown during a press conference in Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province, Feb. 15, 2024. (Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration via AFP)

The speedy conviction followed a Feb. 15 press conference run by Sihanoukville Provincial Gov. Kuoch Chamroeun who said that the pair’s actions negatively affected the provincial reputation and “seriously defamed Cambodia's reputation.” 

The United Nations estimates some 100,000 people nationwide have been trafficked and imprisoned by crime rings who force them through torture and threats to carry out online scams. While estimates are hard to come by, it is believed that across Southeast Asia, such scams have netted billions of dollars.

Most of the victims, both on the enslaved scammer side and on the scammed side, are Chinese nationals. 

The stories surrounding such trafficking have grown so widespread that they have scared off Chinese tourists — a key contributor to Cambodia’s economy. The Cambodian government has responded by blaming the media for negative reports.  

Translated by Yun, Samean. Edited by Abby Seiff and Malcolm Foster.

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