Ricketson's health better in Cambodia jail

Australian James Ricketson's health has stabilised in a Cambodian prison infirmary, sources say.
Australian James Ricketson's health has stabilised in a Cambodian prison infirmary, sources say.

The health of alleged Australian spy James Ricketson has stabilised following his transfer to a prison infirmary from where he is hopeful of being released after a year behind bars.

Prison sources say the 69-year-old filmmaker, who once shared a cramped cell with 146 men and three squat toilets, remains in a prison hospital ward with 30 inmates, has access to a small market and can cook for himself after finding a Khmer diet of rice porridge disagreeable.

"He could not eat a Khmer diet. He might cook food for himself, including fried potatoes," a source told AAP.

Ricketson was admitted to hospital after suffering chest pains more than a month ago.

Other complaints included skin irritations, loss of energy, loss of weight and frequent dizzy spells. Only relatives are allowed to visit.

"He still has swollen lymph nodes," the source said.

"He looked really exhausted when in his previous cell and he seems OK now but he has lost a lot of weight and looks really skinny. The problem is it is really hot and it might be hard for him."

Ricketson has spent a year behind bars since his June 3 arrest for flying a drone over a political rally, leading to charges of espionage linking him to the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has since been dissolved by the courts.

Cambodian officials in the French magistrates-based legal system completed their investigation last week and a decision on whether to proceed with charges of espionage, lesser charges, or release him, is expected in July.

They sifted through 15,000 emails amid accusations by human rights groups the allegations were trumped-up and part of a broader crackdown on the media and opposition politicians, who have fled into exile ahead of elections on July 29.

"He is getting better now and they have changed his cell. The doctor there also pays attention and helps to treat him well," his lawyer, Peung Yok Hiep, told AAP.

She said a hearing date was expected to be announced next week.

A petition calling for Ricketson's release has generated about 66,000 signatures in Australia and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has written a letter to the Cambodian government on Ricketson's behalf.

Australian Associated Press