Australian filmmaker James Ricketson has been found guilty of espionage and sentenced to six years in a Cambodian prison, angering supporters, human rights activists and winning promises of assistance from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Ricketson, 69 and dressed in prison orange, looked relaxed before the verdict was handed down in a Phnom Penh court but became clearly upset by the harsh sentence on Friday.
He was whisked away in a prison van yelling: "Which country am I spying for?"
Ricketson has to decide whether to appeal or accept the verdict and seek a royal pardon.
Speaking to AAP from his holding cell shortly before the verdict, Ricketson said based on the evidence he was confident he would be found not guilty of spying for foreign states.
"If I'm found guilty on the evidence then it's an embarrassment for them and if I'm found not guilty it's an embarrassment for them given what's happened to me over the last 15 months," he said.
"It's a choice of two evils for them."
Ricketson was detained almost 15 months ago after flying a drone without a permit over a political rally organised by the now banned opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).
The court heard he had offered footage of the rally to then CNRP leader Sam Rainsy for party use and that it contained secret locations of security deployments.
The investigation involved 15,000 emails and 1,600 pages of files, before Ricketson was charged with espionage crimes dating back to 1995.
However, prosecutor Seang Sok produced only a handful of emails and 10 photos as evidence he said tied Ricketson to Rainsy who was accused by Prime Minister Hun Sen of fomenting 'colour revolution' backed by the United States.
Those emails included a letter for then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, a query to Rainsy regarding an arrest warrant and another containing details of Hun Sen's personal body guard unit, information Ricketson argued was freely available.
They did, however, suggest Ricketson enjoyed a close relationship with Rainsy that went well beyond that of an independent journalist - a cornerstone of his defence.
He offered to formulate a 2013 election media strategy, sought CNRP advice on opinion pieces he wrote and left no doubt about his political sympathies when he told the court: "My opinion at the time was that the CNRP was the better political party."
His lawyers said that did not make him a spy.
Sok said Ricketson spied for "foreign states" but would not name them.
He focused his questions on the ABC and the Australian Film Commission, which funded his films.
No witnesses were called, no victims were named nor any evidence presented that indicated he was paid to collect information that damaged Cambodian security.
His case came amid a crackdown on opposition politicians and the media before July elections when Hun Sen's ruling party won all 125 seats in the National Assembly.
In Sydney, nephew Bim Ricketson said the family was devastated by the verdict and said he had many undiagnosed health issues.
"We would be very concerned about his health over six years in those conditions and his mental state," he told reporters.
Morrison said Ricketson can expect to receive all consular support as would be expected in these circumstances.
"It is best to deal with these things calmly and directly," he said in Jakarta.
However, human rights groups said Australia had not done enough.
"From day one, James Ricketson has been a scapegoat in Hun Sen's charade of a 'colour revolution' aimed at toppling the government," said Phil Robertson, regional spokesman for Human Rights Watch.