Australian filmmaker James Ricketson charged with spying in Cambodia

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson charged with spying in Cambodia

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson charged with spying in Cambodia

Updated 9 June 2017, 23:40 AEST

After being detained under mysterious circumstances, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson is charged with spying in Cambodia and faces up to 10 years' jail.

An Australian filmmaker has been charged with spying in Cambodia, after he was photographed flying a drone over a political rally.

If convicted, James Ricketson could face up to 10 years in jail.

Court spokesman Ly Sophanna confirmed the charge of "receiving or collecting information, processes, objects, documents, computerised data or files, with a view to supplying them to a foreign state or its agents, which are liable to prejudice the national defence".

The official did not give details about the nature of the allegation.

Ricketson spent years working on a documentary about opposition leader Sam Rainsy and frequently criticised Cambodia's ruling party.

He had also blogged about Australia's refugee resettlement policy, Screen Australia's funding policies and several Cambodian child protection organisations.

Rickestson was convicted of defamation in 2014 and 2016.

After his arrest on June 2, he was held for six days before being charged, which is well beyond the 72 hours allowed under Cambodian law.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for 32 years but faces an increasing challenge from the opposition, which is estimated to have won around 46 per cent of the popular vote in Sunday's commune elections.

With that political shift has come a crackdown on freedom for media and civil society.

The Government accused the two main English-language newspapers of conspiring against it, after they reported on a massive illegal logging scheme on the border with Vietnam this year.

During the recent election campaign, two journalists from The Cambodia Daily were threatened with charges for what appeared to be routine reporting.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said earlier this week that it is providing assistance in the case.

A representative of Ricketson's family declined to comment.