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Jailed filmmaker seeks delay to obtain lawyer

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson shows his handcuffs to the press outside the Supreme Court after his bail hearing was delayed yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson shows his handcuffs to the press outside the Supreme Court after his bail hearing was delayed yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Jailed filmmaker seeks delay to obtain lawyer

The Supreme Court yesterday delayed the bail hearing of Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, currently imprisoned on “espionage” charges for allegedly flying a drone at an opposition election rally this year.

Ricketson, 68, requested the delay, saying he did not know how to answer the court’s questions as he had just been told about the hearing the day before and had not met his new lawyer, who was not present at the hearing and whose identity remains unknown.

“I need to discuss with him,” Ricketson told the court. Presiding Judge Soeng Panhavudth granted the request.

In the past, foreigners caught flying drones without permission from authorities were typically released the same day with a warning. Ricketson, who was a common sight at opposition events, was arrested in June and faces up to 10 years in prison.

His former lawyer, Ou Helene, said that she dropped the case when the Appeal Court rejected his bail request on August 9. “I am busy with work and . . . it bore no good result,” she said. “He kept calling to tell the lawyer about his difficulty [in prison], so I found it hard [to work] with him.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an email last week that they are “providing consular assistance to an Australian man detained in Cambodia”, but declined to comment further.

Analyst Meas Nee said it was unlikely Ricketson engaged in espionage, and said the case had to be dropped without proper evidence.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

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