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“It’s So Wonderful To Have Him Home”: James Ricketson’s Family “Elated”

After 15 months in a Cambodian prison, the film maker is finally reunited with his family in Australia

The adopted daughter of Australian documentary filmmaker and humanitarian James Ricketson tells Marie Claire she is “elated” her father has come home.

Ricketson, 69, arrived home in Sydney on Sunday evening, after a royal pardon saw him walk free after 15 months in a squalid Cambodian prison.

“It’s amazing,” says Roxanne Holmes, 51, who Ricketson adopted as a troubled teenager. “It’s so wonderful to have him home.”

Ricketson, who lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, had been sentenced to six years’ prison for spying, after he flew a camera drone over a political rally in 2017.

The father of two has been a frequent traveller to Cambodia, where he has documented the lives of impoverished families and provided them with aid.

During his trial, prosecutors did not name the country Ricketson allegedly spied for, but detailed Ricketson’s criticism of Cambodia’s strongman prime minister, Hun Sen.


“He’s just wanting peace and quiet,” says Holmes, a grandmother of one. “He’s obviously lost weight [but] he’s going to be OK. He had a lovely coffee this morning— his first real coffee in 15 months. A cappuccino at Palm Beach.”

After his conviction and sentencing Ricketson chose to forgo his right to an appeal, instead requesting clemency from Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni.

Ricketson, who during his imprisonment was supported by his high-profile friends including Sam Neil, Bryan Brown, and Rachel Ward, said he was thankful to Prime Minister Hun Sen for recommending he be pardoned by the king.

Holmes says her father wants to return to Cambodia to continue to help the families he has assisted for so long.

“The outpouring of love for James around Australian and overseas is just phenomenal,” says Holmes. “He’s a humanitarian, a champion for the powerless and poor.”

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