Australian filmmaker James Ricketson apologises to Cambodia’s PM ahead of espionage trial
James Ricketson says he now realises how much stability Hun Sen’s Government brought to Cambodia. (Reuters: Samrang Pring)
Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has apologised for disrespectful comments about Cambodia’s long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of a trial in which he stands accused of espionage and faces 10 years in jail if convicted.
- James Ricketson has offered his “sincerest apologies”
- His lawyers confirmed the authenticity of the letter
- DFAT says it is providing consular assistance to Mr Ricketson
Mr Ricketson, 69, was arrested last June after he was photographed flying a drone above a political rally organised by the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
In a letter to Hun Sen, which was published in full in the Khmer Times newspaper on Wednesday, Mr Ricketson offered his “sincerest apologies” for statements to local media that were “disruptive and ill-informed”.
“These statements were made from a place of foreign naivety and ignorance about the complexities and difficulties of governing Cambodia,” Mr Ricketson said.
“I sincerely regret having made any disrespectful comments and I unreservedly apologise in this regards to yourself and your Government,” he said.
Mr Ricketson said he now realised how much stability Hun Sen’s Government brought to Cambodia.
James Ricketson was charged with espionage for flying a drone over a political rally. (Supplied)
Mr Ricketson’s defence lawyer Peung Yok Hiep confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Reuters and said it would be filed in court ahead of a trial scheduled for July 16.
Mr Ricketson’s arrest came amid a wider crackdown on freedom of expression by the Government of Hun Sen, who has ruled for 33 years.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said it was providing consular assistance to Mr Ricketson.
The CNRP was dissolved last year at the request of Hun Sen’s Government after the arrest of party leader Kem Sokha, who was accused of plotting to take power with American help — charges he said were politically motivated.