Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has been sentenced to six years in a Cambodian prison for espionage. Prosecutors have indicated Ricketson was suspected of working with the opposition or for a foreign power.
A Cambodian court on Friday convicted an Australian filmmaker of spying after he flew a drone over a Cambodian opposition party rally last year.
James Ricketson, 69, was sentenced to six years in prison for flying the drone above the rally organised by the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) before communal elections in June last year.
"The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has decided to convict James Ricketson and sentences him to six years in prison for espionage and collecting information that is harmful to the nation between December 2010 and June 2017," Judge Seng Leang said.
Ricketson has been detained without bail in Cambodia since his arrest and has repeatedly said he has no political agenda and that his work making documentary films is journalistic in nature.
Ricketson in poor health
The filmmaker's family said the court sentence was an "absolute tragedy."
"James is almost 70 and is not in good health, our family is very scared about what will happen to him in there if things take a turn for the worst," Ricketson's family said in a statement, referring to Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison where he is jailed.
"James is not a spy. James loves Cambodia and the Cambodian people. He is a filmmaker and a humanitarian," the family said.
Almost two dozen jailed critics or opponents of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government have been freed in recent weeks following a sweeping ruling party election victory.
law/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)