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Ricketson family express ‘eternal gratitude’ for filmmaker’s pardon

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Australian filmmaker James Ricketson boards a plane at Phnom Penh airport on Sunday . immigration police

Ricketson family express ‘eternal gratitude’ for filmmaker’s pardon

The family of filmmaker James Ricketson thanked the Cambodian authorities after the Australian was deported on Sunday after being pardoned by acting head of state and Senate president Say Chhum.

“We’d like to offer our eternal gratitude to Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen, Say Chhum and King Norodom Sihamoni for showing us compassion and generosity in giving my father a royal pardon,” Ricketson’s son, Jesse, told The Post on Sunday.

“We are overjoyed that he now has the chance to return home to his family and receive much needed medical attention. This is a fantastic turn of events.”

Ricketson, 69, was arrested on June 3 last year after he was seen flying a drone above an opposition party rally. He was sentenced to six years in jail late last month after being held in pre-trial detention for more than a year.

Ouk Hei Seila, head of investigations at the Department of Immigration, said that Ricketson boarded a flight to Sydney via Thailand.

“We deported him last night, at 9pm. Foreigners who commit crimes in Cambodia have to be deported after the announcement of the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

Ricketson’s release on Friday came after he requested a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, rather than continuing to fight his case in the Cambodian courts.

Chhum signed the pardon clearing Ricketson’s conviction on behalf of King Norodom Sihamoni on Friday.

“A pardon has been given to James Staniforth Ricketson, male, Australian national, who was convicted for collecting information that could jeopardise Cambodia’s national defence,” the pardon reads.

In a statement, Ricketson’s family said that their focus would now be on his welfare.“Sixteen months in prison will have taken a huge toll on him physically and emotionally, and we want him to be able to rest and recuperate,” the statement said, adding that Ricketson still loved Cambodia and would remain committed to helping as much as he could.

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James Ricketson sits with Immigration Police officers at Phnom Penh International Airport on Sunday. Immigration Police

The family said a news conference would be held today in Australia.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, welcomed the release but said Ricketson’s time in Prey Sar prison should not be forgotten.

“No one should overlook the bogus criminal charge of ‘espionage’ and how the Cambodian government cruelly used him as a pawn to give substance to its fantasy political conspiracy of a so-called ‘colour revolution’,” he said.

Robertson said the pardon came after Hun Sen destroyed the opposition party and won all 125 seats in parliament.

“This very welcome release does not erase the shameful procession of farcical questions and ‘evidence’ that a Cambodian kangaroo court used to convict Ricketson, nor the reputational damage this case has brought to the Cambodian judiciary,” he said.emotionally, and we want him to be able to rest and recuperate,” the statement said, adding that Ricketson still loved Cambodia and would remain committed to helping as much as he could.

The family said a news conference would be held today in Australia.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, welcomed the release but said Ricketson’s time in Prey Sar prison should not be forgotten.

“No one should overlook the bogus criminal charge of ‘espionage’ and how the Cambodian government cruelly used him as a pawn to give substance to its fantasy political conspiracy of a so-called ‘colour revolution’,” he said.

Robertson said the pardon came after Hun Sen destroyed the opposition party and won all 125 seats in parliament.

“This very welcome release does not erase the shameful procession of farcical questions and ‘evidence’ that a Cambodian kangaroo court used to convict Ricketson, nor the reputational damage this case has brought to the Cambodian judiciary,” he claimed.

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