Aussie filmmaker arrested, accused of spying in Cambodia

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson in police custody in Phnom Penh. Photo: Supplied

An Australian filmmaker has been arrested in Phnom Penh and accused of spying, according to Fresh News, an online site close to Cambodia’s ruling party.

Photographs show James Ricketson, 68, handcuffed and being questioned by police after being detained on the eve of local elections across the country on Sunday.

Fresh News published photographs showing Mr Ricketson using a drone in Phnom Penh in daylight on Saturday as people stood by and watched.

The site said Mr Ricketson, from Sydney, was gathering information without permission and police and local authorities wanted to take legal action against him.

Cambodian police have questioned James Ricketson, seen here in handcuffs, over his use of a drone in the capital Phnom ...
Cambodian police have questioned James Ricketson, seen here in handcuffs, over his use of a drone in the capital Phnom Penh on the eve of local elections. Photo: Supplied

Mr Ricketson studied at the Australian Film and Television School and has made several award-winning features and documentaries.

He has campaigned in Cambodia for the release of children from orphanages and for the release of a British man convicted and jailed over child sex who he says is innocent.

In 2014, a Phnom Penh court gave Mr Ricketson a two-year suspended sentence for allegedly threatening to defame a refuge for girls run by an Australian charity.

He had been campaigning for the release of two girls from the centre whose mother wanted them to come home.

In this photo from Cambodian website Fresh News, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson is seen apparently operating a drone.
In this photo from Cambodian website Fresh News, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson is seen apparently operating a drone. Photo: Supplied

Cambodia’s government warned ahead of the elections that it was closely watching non-government organisations for any “bias” towards opposition parties.

This follows a crackdown on dissent and opposition figures.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened war should the opposition win the elections, which are seen as a precursor to national elections next year.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of reports of an Australian man arrested in Cambodia, and has sought to make contact with him to offer consular assistance.

Mr Ricketson could not be reached for comment. – Brisbane Times

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