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Ricketson denies espionage charge

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
James Ricketson is escorted away from the municipal court. KT/Mai Vireak

Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson again denied accusations of espionage yesterday during his trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Mr Ricketson has been behind bars since his arrest last year after he operated a drone to film an opposition rally without authorisation.

“I believe the accusation that I’m an American spy is a mistake,” he said during the trial.

Mr Ricketson said that two to three weeks into his pre-trial detention, he met a man who went by the name James who claimed to be a friend of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha’s daughter Ms Monovithya, suggesting to the court that they may have accused the wrong person.

Ten pictures taken by Mr Ricketson were also shown yesterday. The pictures showed armed security personnel preventing villagers from submitting a petition.

The court asked him about the photos and Mr Ricketson responded by saying that the photos were sent to family and friends, and were uploaded on the internet.

“I took it with my iPhone and I had sent them to friends and family in Australia, and I also uploaded them online,” he said. “I have never sent the pictures to any foreign government. I produced short video clips, about two to three minutes long, and uploaded them on YouTube.”

“I have never contacted foreign military by making a call,” Mr Ricketson added. “I have never done any activity to undermine the country’s national defence.”

Peung Yok Hiep, Mr Ricketson’s defence lawyer, said that his client is innocent. “As you heard during the trial, my client has never sent any information or pictures to foreign governments,” Ms Yok Hiep said.

Judge Seng Leang said that the trial would continue today. Mr Ricketson faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty of espionage.

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