Cambodian court to make decision on jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson next week

Cambodian court to make decision on jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson next week

Cambodian court to make decision on jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson next week

Updated 10 January 2018, 20:50 AEDT

Cambodia's Supreme Court will announce its decision next week on the appeal to release Australian filmmaker James Ricketson from a Phnom Penh prison.

Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has told Cambodia's highest court the espionage charge laid against him is a perversion of the course of justice.

The 68-year-old went to the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to appeal against the refusal of two lower courts to grant him bail.

Mr Ricketson has been detained since June when he was arrested and charged with espionage after flying a drone over a political rally in Cambodia's capital.

Dressed in prison browns, he addressed the court through an interpreter and said: "This is a breach of Cambodian law and a perversion of the course of justice."

"It is unreasonable to detain a 68-year-old man because he flew a drone without a permit."

Mr Ricketson has been in prison for seven months — one month longer than the maximum limit for pre-trial detention.

He said he had made several written requests to authorities for evidence that shows he is a foreign spy, but there has been no response.

"If the prosecutor has evidence of espionage let them present it in an open court," he said.

"It is my right to conduct a defence but I cannot in the absence of any evidence".

The five-member Supreme Court panel said it would hand down their decision on his appeal next Wednesday.

Outside court, Mr Ricketson refused to allow prison officers to handcuff him as he was led to the court's holding cell.

"See how I'm getting treated? Like a dangerous criminal," he said to reporters watching on.

Mr Ricketson was supported in court by Alexandra Kennett, the partner of his son.

"We're very hopeful that James will receive bail and if he doesn't the court proceedings can be brought to a swift conclusion," she said.

"James remains mentally strong but his physical condition, his health, is deteriorating."

If the Supreme Court rejects Mr Ricketson's appeal for bail he will have to make a fresh application.

If convicted of espionage, he could face up to 10 years in jail.

Mr Ricketson's adopted daughter, Roxanne Holmes, opened an online petition for the release of her father.

She said he is sleeping in a cramped, lice-ridden cell with 27 other prisoners.

"Unless the Australian Government responds quickly, my innocent dad could die in jail. I'm petrified — every day matters now as he gets sicker," she said.

She appealed to the Australian Government to intervene, describing Mr Ricketson as having "the kindest heart".

The petition has so far gathered almost 20,000 signatures.