PHNOM PENH – A 25-year-old American man arrested in Sihanoukville Cambodia on Saturday for holding an expired visa will be extradited to the U.S. to face child-rape charges there, an immigration police official said on Tuesday.
Ian Andrew Heller, who was born in Nebraska, will be sent back to the U.S. as soon as Interior Minister Sar Kheng signs off on the deportation order, said Ouk Hay Seila, director of the investigation and procedure enforcement bureau at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department.
“The U.S. issued warrants to all of their embassies across the world after [Mr. Heller] escaped after being charged with child sex abuse,” he said.
“We initially arrested him because his visa had expired, but we looked at his passport and realized he was the same person,” he said, adding that Mr. Heller is currently being held at the immigration department’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Mr. Hay Seila said Mr. Heller originally arrived in Siem Reap City, before traveling to the coastal town of Sihanoukville.
“He wanted to move to Cambodia and act like a normal tourist, as if nothing had ever happened,” Mr. Hay Seila said.
The Columbian newspaper, which covers the state of Washington’s Clark County, reported Monday that Mr. Heller is accused of raping a girl multiple times and had failed to appear in court six days prior to his arrest in Cambodia.
The article also says Mr. Heller previously served jail time in 2013, but does not elaborate.
“When he was released from jail last year, he was ordered to stay with his half-brother, Keith Griffith…. Griffith told the officer Heller moved without letting him know what his new address would be,” the article says.
“A bench warrant was issued for Heller’s arrest at the end of July for not reporting his new address as required by law,” it continues.
The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh has said it will not comment on Mr. Heller’s case as a matter of policy.
Mr. Heller’s arrest in Sihanoukville on Saturday—announced by the National Police on their website the same day—came in the midst of a new nationwide census that has already resulted in the deportation of dozens of foreign nationals living in the country illegally, including citizens of Russia, India, Nigeria, China and Vietnam.