Cambodian court denies bail for Australian who filmed rally

AP News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2018 3:07 AM
Cambodian court denies bail for Australian who filmed rally

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an application for bail for an Australian filmmaker who was charged with endangering national security last year for flying a camera-loaded drone over an opposition party campaign rally.

James Ricketson, 68, was arrested in the capital Phnom Penh on June 3 after filming the last day of campaigning for local elections a day earlier. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has been critical of media it considers sympathetic to the opposition, and Ricketson often filmed the activities of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which late last year was dissolved by a court ruling.

He has been charged with collecting information prejudicial to national defense, which is punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

A Supreme Court statement said the decision was made by a lower court according to the law. It added that Ricketson should not be freed on bail because his case is still under investigation by the court.

The decision was announced in Ricketson's absence, as he was transported late to the court.

According to Alexandra Kennet, who was present at the court on behalf of Ricketson's family, the filmmaker is being detained in a 6-by-16-meter (20-by-52-foot) cell along with 140 other prisoners, but his health is holding up during Cambodia's current cool season.

Kenneth said Ricketson's family was very disappointed by the Supreme Court decision, but hope that they will see the case move forward with transparency and swiftly as possible.

"The Ricketson family has asked me to say that they are obviously very, very disappointed by the outcome of today's proceedings and in particular that the verdict, the denial of bail, was handed down in absentia," she said. "We were very hopeful that today might lead to James being able to wait out the investigation period in conditions that were more appropriate to his age."