The lawyer of jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson yesterday submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen to ask King Norodom Sihamoni to pardon his client.
Kong Sam Onn, Mr Ricketson’s lawyer, said yesterday that the letter was submitted to Mr Hun Sen’s cabinet office.
“I sent the letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet office this morning to ask if the King could pardon my client,” Mr Sam Onn said, noting that Mr Ricketson is innocent. “For the life of James, he’s only a filmmaker – he wasn’t involved in espionage.”
Mr Ricketson has been behind bars ever since his arrest in 2017 for flying a drone to film an opposition rally without authorisation.
Mr Ricketson was sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 31 to six years in prison for collecting information considered prejudicial to national defence.
Kong Chamroeun, an official at the Prime Minister’s cabinet office, said that he has not received the letter.
“I don’t know anything about this yet,” Mr Chamroeun said.
During his trial, Mr Ricketson said that he was a journalist and that he had no political agenda. Character witnesses testified that Mr Ricketson worked to help poor Cambodians.
“Please tell me which country was I spying for?” Mr Ricketson said after the verdict was announced.
Jesse Ricketson, Mr Ricketson’s son, said after the trial that his family was devastated by the verdict.
“It’s been a really long hard road to this point, and now this result is just heartbreaking,” he said. “I feel so much for my father right now.”
The verdict was also slammed by Human Rights Watch as cruel and unusual.
Phil Robertson, HRW deputy Asia director, said the charges were baseless and that no convincing evidence was presented during the trial.
“The trial exposed everything that’s wrong with the Cambodian judicial system: ridiculously excessive charges; prosecutors with little to no evidence and judges carrying out political orders from the government, rather than based on what happens in court,” Mr Robertson said. “When it comes to a conviction in a Cambodian court, clearly no facts are required.”