Film director James Ricketson has been given a royal pardon in Cambodia, after being sentenced last month to six years in prison for espionage.
Ricketson, 69, was arrested in June last year, for flying a drone over a political rally without permission. He had been making documentaries in Cambodia for more than 20 years.
Government-friendly media outlets had named him as an “important spy” in a US-led plot to foment a “colour revolution” and overthrow Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than 30 years.
Ricketson is one of the 18 founding members of the Australian Directors Guild, whose body of work includes feature films: Third Person Plural (1978), Candy Regentag (1989), Blackfellas (1994). He also directed one of the four episodes of the miniseries Women of the Sun and was a producer on ABC series Chequerboard.
The Australian Directors Guild were amongst those calling on the Australian Government to intervene, whilst directors Peter Weir and Philip Noyce had also been actively supporting his bid for justice.
A royal pardon was signed by Cambodia’s Senate president Say Chhum, who is the acting head of state in the absence of King Norodom Sihamoni, who is reportedly visiting China.
Pardons are normally issued at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.