James Ricketson withdraws appeal, seeks real forgiveness

<pre><pre>James Ricketson withdraws appeal, seeks real forgiveness

Australian filmmaker and convicted spy James Ricketson will not seek an appeal against his Cambodian conviction for espionage and six years in prison, which allows him to request real forgiveness, his family said.

"My father has decided to file a clemency request from the king, and the Australian government has indicated that they will fully support this submission," Ricketson's son Jesse said Wednesday.

"This is no longer a legal issue but a humanitarian one, it's a matter of compassion and mercy, my father is an old man with health problems and incredibly difficult conditions," he added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, confirmed the government's support for the request.

"I welcome today's statement from the Ricketson family that Mr. Ricketson intends to formally file a clemency petition," Sen. Payne told the AAP in a statement.

He said that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would continue to work with his family and provide Mr. Ricketson with all consular support.

Ricketson, 69, was found guilty of espionage and gathering information for "foreign states" that harmed Cambodia's national security, before a three-judge tribunal.

James Ricketson in a Cambodian village before his arrest in June 2017.

Supplied

He was arrested in June last year after flying a drone over a political rally organized by the now banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), without a permit, and sentenced to six years behind bars.

"Six years there they will kill him, we need to take him home, I, like his son, on behalf of his family and loved ones, I'm also asking for mercy personally so we can do it," Jesse said.

Under Cambodian law, a pardon can not be issued until the appeals process has been exhausted or eliminated. Normally it is requested by the condemned with the government then asking King Norodom Sihamoni for a real approval.

The court heard that Ricketson had captured images of secret security deployments and offered it to the then leader of the CNRP, Sam Rainsy, who now lives in exile.

However, prosecutors would not say which country Ricketson was spying on, nor called a witness in a trial that was widely criticized by human rights groups and media organizations, who also criticized the Australian government for not doing enough.