Before the ruling was pronounced Friday, Ricketson's attorney Sam Onn Kong told CNN that the prosecutor's office failed to provide concrete evidence of espionage – or even to name the country for which he was charged with espionage.
"In what country is James spying, is it Australia, is it America, please let us know." Kong told CNN on Thursday that Ricketson will appeal the verdict.
Ricketson has been traveling between Cambodia and Australia for more than 20 years, shooting documentaries about life in the Southeast Asian country.
Since then, he has established charitable ventures in the country, including a Cambodian girl and her mother.
The ABC reports that Ricketson has been critical of Cambodian leader Hun Sen and that Cambodian media are sympathetic to the government. He described him as an "important spy" who would trigger a "color revolution".
The prosecution's main legal arguments concerned e-mails that were retrieved after his arrest, including a message to former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (1
Call for diplomatic intervention
Ricketson's son Jesse said on Thursday that the 14 months in prison for his father had been physically and mentally exhausting.
"(It was) hard for us, especially James, he's an old man and not in good health – the conditions in prison are very harsh, and there's a human toll on those who support him."
He said that his father never meant "obviousness." He is an outspoken type who has many opinions, but he always comes from a place of love for Cambodia – he loves people, loves space.
The last thing he wanted to do was offend the Cambodian people or the government.
Kong, Ricketson's attorney, told CNN that the Australian government should take diplomatic action
"If the government agrees There is no evidence that they should do anything," Kong said.