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Government still mum over arrested Australian filmmaker

James Ricketson, 68, seen flying a drone at the CNRP rally earlier this month in Phnom Penh_FRESH NEWS
James Ricketson, 68, seen flying a drone at the CNRP rally earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Fresh News

Government still mum over arrested Australian filmmaker

Cambodian officials yesterday remained tight-lipped on the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, who was charged with gathering information prejudicial to national defence on Friday.

If found guilty, Ricketson, 68, could face between five and 10 years in prison under Article 446 of the Cambodian Penal Code, which involves “receiving or collecting information, processes, objects, documents, computerised data or files, with a view to supplying them to a foreign state or its agents, which are liable to prejudice the national defence”.

Lou Rabo, an immigration police officer, confirmed Ricketson was sent to Prey Sar prison on June 9 and that Ricketson had requested that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court provide him a lawyer, although court spokesman Ly Sophanna declined to say if Ricketson had yet received legal counsel.

Rabo said he could not comment on what information Ricketson had gathered, which foreign state Ricketson planned to share it with or why it was detrimental to Cambodia’s national security, saying the case was now before the investigating judge. National Police and the Cybercrime Department could not be reached yesterday.

Ricketson was arrested on June 3, a day after he was spotted flying a drone at an opposition rally. He was held for almost a week before charges were laid.

While several tourists have been arrested for flying drones after a 2015 ban, all were released after a brief detention.

The Australian Embassy said it had provided consular assistance to Ricketson, but declined to comment further due to privacy obligations.

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