The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday questioned defendant James Ricketson and a woman who said she was the Australian filmmaker’s goddaughter.
Arrested in June last year, the 69-year-old Ricketson was told he had endangered national security by flying his camera drone over a Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) rally in 2013.
In court on Monday, Chab Thy, 23, from Prey Veng province took the stand and told the judge she had known Ricketson since she was 10 years old.
She said their paths had crossed when she and her mother were begging on the streets of Phnom Penh and Ricketson began giving her money to study English.
“I do not remember the year, but when James came back to Cambodia, my father passed away and I asked him to be my godfather.
“He is a good man and rents a house for my family and gives capital for us to run a grocery business,” Thy said, adding that he had been transferring $110 per week into her bank account for many years.
During Ricketson’s testimony, it was revealed that after meeting Thy, he shot a documentary about her life called Chab Thy’s World. He claimed that the film was shown in over 25 countries and used to raise funds to help bring them out of poverty.
“Since I have known him, he has not asked me about politics or national security issues in Cambodia, but he told me that if I love a party, just vote for that party,” Thy said.
Three of the total seven witnesses in the case have already been questioned by the investigating judge.
On Monday the court had planned to hear testimony from the remaining four but delayed the trial until Thursday because a translator was tired.
Ricketson was charged with collecting information that could impact national defence, according to Article 446 of the Criminal Code. He faces 10 years in prison if found guilty.