James Ricketson, the Australian filmmaker who was sentenced to six years in prison on espionage charges this month, has received a royal pardon.
The decree was signed by Say Chhum, a leading member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, while King Norodom Sihamoni is on a visit to China.
Ricketson was arrested in June 2017 after he piloted a drone near an opposition rally in the capital.
He was detained on pre-trial detention for over a year before his sentencing and subsequent release.
Kong Som On, Ricketson’s lawyer, said the filmmaker planned to return to Australia but would come back to Cambodia in the future to finish a film he has been working on.
Som On added that Ricketson had penned a letter of apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen prior to his sentencing.
“His work was not illegal. The problem was some criteria of the work, but that doesn’t mean it was illegal. He just shouldn’t have published some news or recorded some events,” Som On said.
Ricketson’s conviction led to widespread condemnation from the international community, with the sentence labeled as politically motivated.
Numerous political activists and members of the opposition have seen their sentences revoked following July’s general election in what has been seen as an attempt to calm political tensions.