68-year old could be charged with espionage and serve as much as 10 years in jail

Australian director James Ricketson’s time in a Cambodian jail isn’t getting cut short after his bail request was rejected by Supreme Court Judge Soeng Panhavuth because the “investigation is still underway.”

The 68-year old Ricketson was arrested in June 2017 after he was caught flying a drone over a campaign rally organized by the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party in Phnom Penh. Flying a drone in the capital city is illegal without official permission from the government. Ricketson was charged with “acts of collecting information which may undermine national defense.” If found guilty, could face between five to 10 years in prison.

Understandably, Ricketson’s family was dismayed at the decision and are worried about the health of the 68-year old. “The Ricketson family … are obviously very disappointed by the outcome of today’s proceedings,” Alexandra Kennett, the partner of Ricketson’s son, Jesse, told reporters outside the court.

The Australian director has spent the last five years in Cambodia and was said to be filming a documentary at the time he was arrested. It’s also not the first time the director has had a brush with the law in the country. Back in 2014, Ricketson was slapped with a two-year suspended prison sentence for allegedly threatening to expose an Australian-based church working in Cambodia for child-trafficking. More recently, Ricketson was fined after being found guilty of defaming Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), a non-profit organization that works on locating and apprehending pedophiles, on accusations that the group was manipulating witnesses.

It’s hardly surprising that Ricketson would be in this kind of trouble in a country that’s as politically charged as Cambodia is now. You get in the crosshairs of the government, and you’re going to be in trouble. Hopefully, we see a resolution here that will work best for all parties concerned.


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