James Ricketson guilty of espionage in Cambodia, sentenced to six years

By @chelean on
James Ricketson
Australian filmmaker James Ricketson shouts inside a prison truck as he leaves the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 31, 2018. Reuters/Samrang Pring

James Ricketson has been found guilty of espionage in Cambodia. The Australian filmmaker was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday.

Shortly after a trio of judges in Phnom Penh handed down the verdict, the 69-year-old was whisked away in a prison van, shouting, “Which country am I spying for?”

During the trial, prosecutor Seang Sok had told the court that Ricketson’s aim was to incite hatred and overthrow Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government. He said the Australian aimed to provide information harmful to Cambodia to foreign states, which the prosecution failed to name. His filmmaking was said to be just a cover for his espionage activities.

Before he was sentenced, he told AAP that he was confident he would be found not guilty of spying for foreign states. He has been in jail since June last year after he was arrested for flying a drone over a political party rally in Phnom Penh.

In July, he wrote an open letter to Hun Sen to ask him for forgiveness over the “disruptive and ill-informed” statements he made to the press following his arrest.

Prime Minister Scott Minister, speaking from Indonesia, has promised to give Ricketson support from the government.

“He can expect to get all the consular and other support from the Australian government you would expect in these circumstances,” he told reporters (via SBS). “As usual in these types of events, it is best with these things calmly and directly and in a way which best assists a citizen.”

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had intervened in Ricketson’s case in February after a petition demanding for his release garnered 70,000 signatures. Bishop has been replaced by Marise Payne since the leadership spill last week.

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