Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Updated: Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson denied bail



Updated: Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson denied bail

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson is escorted outside of the Supreme Court earlier this month. Pha Lina
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson is escorted outside of the Supreme Court earlier this month. Pha Lina

Updated: Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson denied bail

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, who is awaiting trial on contentious “espionage” charges, had his bid for bail rejected in absentia by Cambodia’s Supreme Court today.

The bail decision was handed down before Ricketson arrived at the court, and the prison van transporting him immediately turned around upon entering the court compound and departed.

His lawyer, Peung Yok Hiep, said the bail request was rejected at Cambodia’s highest court because the investigation into Ricketson – which includes combing his emails and camera equipment – was not yet finished at the lower court.

Ricketson, 68, was arrested in June last year after he was spotted flying a drone above an opposition party rally, and was accused of gathering information that could undermine Cambodia’s national security with the intent to pass it on to a foreign entity. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

He has spent the past seven months at Cambodia’s notoriously overcrowded Prey Sar prison. Ricketson was recently moved to a 16-by-6-metre cell containing 140 inmates, according to family members, who are concerned for his health and well-being.

“Our family is sorely disappointed by today’s verdict,” said Jesse Ricketson, James’s son, in a statement. “As he’s almost 70, our family is very concerned about my father’s health in the lead up to the hot period in March and April.”

Jesse’s partner, Alexandra Kennet, was present at court and said the family was especially disappointed the bail rejection was handed down in James’s absence.

“But we do hope that we can see the case move forward transparently and as swiftly as possible,” she added.

Ricketson and his lawyers have argued the spying charges are politically driven, due to his perceived links to leading opposition party figures. He has also come into conflict with child protection NGOs, who allege he defamed them.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November over accusations it was fomenting a foreign-backed “revolution”, which authorities have done little to substantiate. Its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for “treason” in September.

Support in Ricketson’s native Australia has grown after former Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was jailed in Egypt on widely panned allegations of damaging national security, called attention to his plight. A petition demanding his release garnered more than 66,000 signatures.

“James is an excellent and loving father, uncle and brother. He is a kind, decent and honest man, and has, over the last 22 years, volunteered a lot of his time and money to help poor families in Cambodia,” Jesse said.

“We firmly believe James is innocent of espionage or any other crime and hope to see him return home soon.”

Updated: Wednesday 31 January 2018, 6:52am

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the