I am not a friend of the film-maker James Ricketson. My acquaintance with him was pretty much limited to a viewing of his three feature films and an occasional brief word as he sat on the very right hand edge in the middle of the stalls in the State Theatre during the Sydney Film Festival. I was as surprised as anybody to hear that he had been arrested in Cambodia for doing something not approved of by its somewhat authoritarian Government. You can read a good summary of his case if you click on the link.
Whatever, he has now been bunged up in a Cambodian jail for some little time now.
Film-maker Phillip Noyce has just recently been passed news of his situation and I am reprinting it here from his Facebook page by permission.
“JAMES RICKETSON...THIS REPORT JUST IN FROM A FRIEND....I saw James today at Prey Sar Prison, about 20 kms south west of Phnom Penh. It was quite an arduous process, even with the indispensable assistance of a Cambodian Army colonel who accompanied me every step of the way, and even sat opposite James as we discussed his predicament. James seemed to be in pretty good spirits. He certainly didn't look depressed or physically unwell. I asked him if he was being mistreated in any way and he replied with an emphatic "No". But several prison guards were looking over my shoulder and listening in so I can't be sure if the "no" was for their benefit. I asked him if he needed anything done on his behalf back in Australia. Again, "no"
I was extremely lucky to see James. It was outside the onerous visiting hours and in the end I could only get 10 minutes with him. If it wasn't for the army colonel flashing his ID I don't think I would have made it past the outer boom gate. So I just can't imagine how other Australian visitors are going to manage.
The Australian Embassy is not much use; in fact they are irrelevant in helping out with these types of visits.
The colonel, who spoke reasonable English, was very familiar with James' case and assured me that James was not being mistreated in prison as his
"crime" wasn't considered to be too serious. He told me that drug and sex trafficking offenders were the ones that were subjected to the most severe treatment by prison guards.
The colonel also said that if James was prepared to offer an apology and cease his uncompromising criticism of the current Cambodian govt then there's every chance that his case could be reviewed sooner, rather than later.”