Harry Nicolaides wrote a book four years ago that only sold four copies. In it, buried, was a slight insilt to the Royal Family of Thailand.
Nicolaides, an Australian, is now under arrest and in jail in Thailand and the government is cracking down on free speech everywhere including on the Internet…..
“Truth is stranger than fiction,” he said. “It’s been an ordeal for months. It feels like a bad dream.”
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. A jail term handed down to an Australian for insulting Thailand’s royals is a “serious violation” of free expression and part of a worrying increase in such cases, a media rights watchdog said.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
By Tim Johnston in Bangkok
The Financial Times
An Australian author has been sentenced in Thailand to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to charges of insulting the country’s royal family.
Harry Nicolaides, 41, fell foul of Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté laws, designed to protect King Bhumibol Aduladej and his family.
Four years ago Mr Nicolaides self-published 50 copies of his novel Verisimilitude , selling only seven. Buried deep within the plot, set in Thailand, was a short passage that portrayed the private life of an unnamed crown prince in unflattering terms.
Harry Nicolaides behind the bars of a Thai holding cell on Monday.
He was arrested in August and has spent the past five months on remand in Bangkok. Mr Nicolaides did not contest the charges. In previous cases similar to this the king has pardoned culprits.
Even though Thailand’s revered king has said publicly that he does not need the lèse majesté laws, they have proved too useful to be discarded by opportunistic politicians for whom they serve both as a political tool to prove their loyalty and as a weapon against their opponents.
The king and his family are formally above the country’s partisan politics, but King Bhumibol was dragged into the political debate last year by protesters who besieged government offices and Bangkok’s two airports. The protesters said they aimed to protect the king, while seeking the resignation of the then ruling party.