Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aussie filmmaker’s spy trial postponed

Aussie filmmaker’s spy trial postponed

James Ricketson, 68, seen flying a drone at the CNRP rally in Phnom Penh in June.
James Ricketson, 68, seen flying a drone at the CNRP rally in Phnom Penh in June. Fresh News

Aussie filmmaker’s spy trial postponed

Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson was hauled in for a fresh round of questioning about alleged “espionage” activities at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, only to have the session postponed.

Shedding light on the murky set of circumstances surrounding Ricketson’s case, Sourng Sopheaktra, a lawyer who represented him yesterday, revealed police had mined Ricketson’s emails and other documents after seizing his phone, laptop and other electronic devices.

Sopheaktra said yesterday’s court session was postponed until at least next week, as those seized documents had not all been translated into Khmer.

Ricketson, 69, was arrested in June and has spent six months in pre-trial detention – the maximum length of imprisonment before trial unless an extension is requested – after he was seen flying a drone at a CNRP rally.

He was later charged with planning to furnish foreign agents with information “liable to prejudice the national defence”, an accusation observers and his lawyer dispute, arguing his case is part of a broader crackdown on independent media and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in September for “treason”, and his party – the only real challenger to the ruling party at upcoming elections – was dissolved two months later over accusations it was colluding with foreign powers.

“It is because of his relation with the opposition party – that’s why he got in trouble,” Sopheaktra said. “If he made films related to the ruling party, maybe [it would] not matter.”

He said a preliminary document at the court alleged Ricketson had contact with many people in the opposition party. Ricketson, for his part, has told the court he came to the Kingdom “to help poor people and make films, not to be a spy”.

Sopheaktra said Ricketson had yesterday dismissed him as his lawyer and would instead be represented by defence attorney Peung Yok Hiep.

Ricketson’s daughter, Roxanne Holmes, yesterday told The Post of the emotional toll her father’s imprisonment was having on their family.

“James adopted me many, many years ago. He saved my life. He is not a spy,” she said, calling him “a real humanitarian”.

“We all love him. We’re absolutely devastated that he’s not here, it’s heartbreaking.”

Australian interest in Ricketson’s case has peaked over the past month, but while some loudly sing his praises, Ricketson has also caught others offside, including the Cambodian courts, who have found him guilty of blackmail and defamation in the past.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway