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Detained Australian says sorry to PM

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
James Ricketson at the Supreme Court during a previous appearance. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Detained Australian journalist and filmmaker James Ricketson has written a letter of apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen and pleaded to be released.

Mr Ricketson, 69, has been in Prey Sar prison since June last year awaiting trial after being accused of involvement in terrorism or a colour revolution after being arrested while flying a drone over a CNRP rally.

“May I please, respectfully, send my sincerest apologies to yourself and the Cambodian Government,” Mr Ricketson wrote. “I now realise that statements I have made in the press are disruptive and ill-informed. These statements were made from a place of foreign naivety and ignorance about the complexities and difficulties of governing Cambodia.”

“I sincerely regret having made any disrespectful comments and I unreservedly apologise in this regard to yourself and your Cambodian government,” he added. “I can see much more clearly now how much good your government brings to the country and the stability it affords to Cambodians.”

“I apologise unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues. If there is anything I can do to remedy my mistake, please let me know as I only want the best for you and Cambodia.”

“I thank you in advance for your indulgence and understanding of an uninformed foreigner,” he said.

Seang Sok, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Mr Ricketson had been charged with collecting information prejudicial to national defence. The charge has a maximum penalty of ten years in jail.

Colonel Tey Visal, deputy chief of the municipal serious crimes unit in Phnom Penh, said Mr Ricketson was arrested on June 3 last year by police from the internal security department of the Ministry of Interior.

He said Mr Ricketson was arrested while he was using a drone camera to film a CNRP rally in front of the Royal Palace and the Mekong river without authorisation. Police confiscated the drone and other materials.

Mr Ricketson’s lawyer, Peung Yok Hiep, said her client was a journalist and filmmaker. She said that on the day of his arrest, he was working as a freelance journalist in Cambodia, but did not hold a press card issued by the Ministry of Information.

“After his arrest, police inspected and checked his cameras as well as other film documents seized and found most of his photos and documents had links to the establishment of the Sam Rainsy Party since 1997 and the CNRP,” she said.

She added that Mr Ricketson’s trial was due to take place on Monday.

“He is a journalist. He has the right to collect information, photograph or film all politicians and rallies in Cambodia,” she said. “He has not committed any crime he has been charged with.” “As a defence lawyer, I will try my best to help my client. I hope that the court will find the truth and justice for him,” she added.

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