Two foreign tourists held for flying drone above Royal Palace

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Chinese man was arrested on Monday for flying a camera-equipped drone above the Royal Palace’s forbidden areas. Supplied

Two Chinese tourists were arrested on Monday for flying a camera-equipped drone above the Royal Palace’s forbidden areas.

The Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Cybercrime Department director Chea Pov told The Post on Tuesday that Chey Chumneah commune police forces arrested the two at 5:10pm on the Royal Palace compound in the commune’s Village 1, in the capital’s Daun Penh district.

“We do not have any procedures [to follow] but to merely secure the drone. We released the two after they received instruction.”

Commune police chief Thon Kaony said the two men, who are 51 and 43 years old, were staying at a hotel in Daun Penh district’s Boeung Raing commune.

Police seized a grey Chinese-made DJI drone, two iPhones, two grey intelligent flight batteries, a black remote control, a black Nikon camera and a black Godox on-camera flash kit.

“The duo visited the Royal Palace, opened the bag containing the drone, and flew it in the compound to shoot some footage,” said Kaony.

“Police stationed at the Royal Palace then arrested them and took them to the Chey Chumneah commune police station.

“They said they were unaware that drones were forbidden in the Royal Palace and had not seen the signs banning drones either.”

In a similar incident on April 11, Chey Chumneah commune police arrested a suspect who flew a camera-equipped drone over the Royal Palace Park along Sisowath Quay.

The suspect, 33, was a Chinese tourist who stayed at a hotel in Prampi Makara district’s Boeung Prolit commune in the capital. Police seized a white Chinese-made DJI drone, a red iPhone 7, a battery and a white remote control for the drone.

On February 2015, Phnom Penh Municipal Hall banned unmanned aerial vehicles in the capital without prior approval, citing the potential for privacy violations, disturbing the peace and terrorist threats.

The ban was made after German tourist and freelance journalist Michael Altenhenne flew a drone over the royal residence’s courtyard on February 14, which took Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk by surprise during an evening stroll.