Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ricketson questioning on espionage charges postponed

Ricketson questioning on espionage charges postponed

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson arrives for questioning over allegations of ‘espionage’ at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in June.
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson arrives for questioning over allegations of ‘espionage’ at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in June. Pha Lina

Ricketson questioning on espionage charges postponed

Final court questioning over espionage charges was unexpectedly delayed today for jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson.

Ricketson, 68, said he was “cautiously optimistic” as he disembarked from a prison van at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.

He was expecting a fourth round of questioning from investigating judge Pich Vicheathor before the session was postponed at the last minute.

Ricketson’s lawyer, Peung Yok Hiep, said a new date had yet to be announced and today’s questioning was postponed because the judge had an “urgent meeting”.

Speaking over the heads of other prisoners in a crowded room, Ricketson claimed he had contracted scabies in a crowded cell of 140 detainees and expressed hope that the Australian authorities would do more to help him. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has written to her Cambodian counterpart regarding his case.

Ricketson was arrested in June last year after he flew a drone above an opposition party rally. He was charged under Cambodian espionage laws and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

He has remained in prison for nearly 9 months without trial and his appeals for bail have been rejected.

Investigators are combing through more than 20 of his emails to foreigners, friends, journalists and former opposition leader Sam Rainsy. Three of those emails, seen by the Post, appear to contain only routine correspondence.

Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, reported seeing the contents of a dozen of Ricketson’s emails and said they showed “a strongly worded dislike of Prime Minister Hun Sen and enthusiastic support for the opposition but nothing remotely akin to spying”.

Ricketson has proved a divisive figure during his years in the Kingdom. While he has won praise for his personal charity towards Cambodia’s poor, he had also been embroiled in defamation suits and controversially campaigned for the release of a convicted pedophile whom he believed was innocent.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42