by Steven Ertelt
November 8, 2005
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (LifeNews.com) — An American who ran two web sites promoting euthanasia in the African country of Cambodia may face expulsion from the country or imprisonment for running two web sites encouraging people to travel to the nation to end their lives.
Roger Graham said he traveled to Cambodia to set up a coffee shop and the web sites after failing to persuade officials in a California town where he lived to legalize euthanasia there. He said he was taking advantage of the fact the nation has no laws against assisted suicide.
"I did not start this to make money, I did it because I believe in a person’s right to choose the time, place, and manner of their own death," Graham said in an email from his base in Kampot, Cambodia.
"I have made zero dollars off my Web site," Graham told The Free Press.
Cambodian authorities have asked Graham to shut down the web sites because they don’t want their impoverished nation to gain a reputation as a place that condones euthanasia. That comes especially in light of its reputation as the "killing fields" of Pol Pot’s 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime, which killed more than one million people.
Still, officials say the damage has been done and they are pressing a legal case against Graham.
"To take the Web site down now is too late," Kampot Provincial Governor Puth Chandarith told the German news agency, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, on Sunday.
"We will continue the case before the court. We believe the Web site destroyed the honor of Kampot by being there at all," he added.
"Whether he is made to leave the country, or go to jail, is up to the court, but the case is at the court now and it must be heard by the court," the governor said.
Graham says he’s had the web site online for at least a year and he indicated he has had about 100 people contact him but he knows of no one who has come to Cambodia to end their lives.
Graham had lived in the northern California town of Paradise and set up a local organization to promote euthanasia and assisted suicide.
"While in Paradise, California, I founded the Assisted Euthanasia Society of Paradise, and made an attempt at having the city council of Paradise pass an ordinance authorizing a peaceful and painless death," he explained. "They declined."