An Australian journalist and filmmaker jailed in Cambodia on espionage charges has been sent to a prison hospital after contracting a chest infection and suffering dizzy spells, his family says.
James Ricketson is staying at the hospital inside the notorious Prey Sar Prison, following a visit to a Phnom Penh hospital last month with chest pains, Alexandra Kennett, partner of James’ son Jesse, told AAP.
“James has been experiencing a large variety of medical complaints since the hot season started. He has recently been moved to the prison hospital for supervision but unfortunately they do not have the provisions to offer him sufficient care,” she said.
She said Ricketson was also suffering from skin irritations, loss of energy, loss of weight and frequent dizzy spells and his family was hopeful that he can be moved to a more equipped hospital for a proper medical examination and diagnosis.
“We are deeply concerned about his health situation given that we have not seen any improvements for months now and as we move further into the hot season, we are worried that his condition is only going to get worse without proper treatment.”
“Without this we have little faith that his condition will improve,” Kennett said.
Ricketson was accused of gathering information that poses a threat to Cambodia’s national security, which has been linked to the dissolution of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, amid a crackdown on political dissent ahead of elections scheduled for July 29.
Police are evaluating data on the journalist’s computer and mobile phones, including thousands of emails, which were confiscated at the time of his arrest in June last year.
The filmmaker sent a letter to the Australian ambassador to Cambodia in April that was published on Facebook on Thursday.
He urged the Australian embassy to ensure he receives “the full medical check-up that was agreed upon,” along with treatment for chest pain and lung fluid.
“It is now 10 days since an X-ray of my chest was taken at the Calmette hospital – if the nature of my problem has been identified by the radiologist or doctor, this information has not been passed on to me,” Ricketson wrote in the letter.
His plight has moved many in Australia, where a petition calling for his release has generated some 66,000 signatures. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has intervened and written a letter to the Cambodian government on Ricketson’s behalf.
He has been refused bail and a date has yet to be set for his next hearing, as the “judge is still conducting his investigation in the case,” his lawyer Peung Yok Hiep told dpa.
Ricketson says there is no case to answer and that he was simply carrying out his work as a journalist when arrested.
The Australian Embassy, which is providing regular consular assistance, in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment.
Australian Associated Press