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Verisimilitude by Harry Nicolaides

Harry Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday, Jan 19, 2009 in Bangkok.>br> We demand his release.

Book can be seen here:
Verisimilitude

Verisimilitude. We have seen a copy of this book. We have a copy of this book.
We have put this page back up because we never believed that joining the Thai government in blacking out Harry's book Verisimilitude would ever get Harry out of prison for this horrible charge against him, and after months according to our predictions he is still there.

Write the Thai Government, the Australian Government, and demand his release.

Release Harry Nicolaides
Jan. 30, 2009
Our friend Harry Nicolaides has been put in prison in Bangkok, Thailand for a paragraph quoting a rumor about the Crown Prince, in this book, Verisimilitude on page 115. He has been sentenced to 3 years in prison as of the 19th of this month. We think that this is totally unacceptable and demand his immediate release.

The Aussie Government has done sorry little to get him released from jail. Apparently the Aussies have more important things to do than defend freedoms of speech. Further, the rumors are wide spread in Thailand. The government and Royalty of Thailand now use Les Majeste to persecute many Thai individuals in the country as well. This is not freedom.

A few words for the Queen at the UN 2007
Thai King's Reply To Harry Nicolaides - The Video

Free Harry Nicolaides
Jan. 26, 2009

Harry Nicolaides Given 3 Year Prison Sentence in Bangkok for Les Majeste
Jan 19, 2009
Harry Nicolaides, imprisoned since September on a charge of Les Majeste, has been sentenced to three years in prison in Bangkok as of Monday morning.

Harry was arrested for printing a book in which one paragraph quoted a rumor about the Crown Prince banishing an ex mistress.

Les Majeste is the height of lack of freedom of speach in Thailand. Thais who pride themselves on the Royals, can not prove whether it is fear or respect. Given Les Majeste laws, that anyone can level against another individual, citizens can hardly feel safe to say what they want.

Harry's book, Verisimilitude, was also harshly critical of US missionaries dominating the schooling system where possible, and the basic colonization of Thailand by the US since the Vietnam war.

A photo copy of the cover of the book can be seen at:
Versimilitude Cover and Offending pdf page 65 (Book Page 115)

We demand the release of Harry Nicolaides. You can write the Australian Government, whose response to the case has been pathetic, and you can write to the Thai consulate or embassy near you. There are also comments on Facebook.

The Irrawady, the New York Times and other papers now carry articles on this story.

Harry Nicolaides Refused Bail for Third Time in Les Majeste Case in Thailand
Remains in Prison
Jan 15, 2009
Harry Nicolaides, an Australian who was arrested in a strange case of Les Majeste in Thailand over his book Verisimilitude which is claimed to contain three lines about the Crown Prince and a rumor that he kicked a mistress out of Thailand, has been kept in prison in Bangkok since this time. His legal team had been hoping Harry would be granted bail, but each time the Thai police went back on their word.

Apparently "all the King's men" don't know the Thai government like we know the Thai Government.

This case has been kept concealed from the world public. Thai authorities can't point out the offending lines and have "gathered up all the books".

This is an extremely foolish case. Words in a book. A novel. A novel that never sold more than a few copies, a novel no one has a copy of now. A novel that basically does not exist. But Thailand considers itself part of the free world. The King says that people should be able to criticize the King, but then stands by silently while people are thrown in the dungeon for allegations some fool in public has leveled against any individual.

The King of Thailand is obligated to bring an end to the draconian Les Majeste laws. He must begin to support democracy for the Thai people so often kept in the dark, atrocities not coming to light for years and decades after the abuses took place.

We call on all people of good heart to protest the case and imprisonment of Harry Nicolaides. The time for polite speech is over.

The Australian Government should be ashamed of having abandoned one of their citizens to prison in this fashion. Drug runners and women abuses from foreign countries abound in Thailand, sex traffickers, paedophiles, confidence men and crooks of every kind, but Harry has been left in prison by his government over three lines of ink in a book no one apparently has ever seen.

Harry Nicolaides Refused Bail for Third Time in Les Majeste Case in Thailand
Remains in Prison
Jan 15, 2009
Harry Nicolaides, an Australian who was arrested in a strange case of Les Majeste in Thailand over his book Verisimilitude which is claimed to contain three lines about the Crown Prince and a rumor that he kicked a mistress out of Thailand, has been kept in prison in Bangkok since this time. His legal team had been hoping Harry would be granted bail, but each time the Thai police went back on their word.

Apparently "all the King's men" don't know the Thai government like we know the Thai Government.

This case has been kept concealed from the world public. Thai authorities can't point out the offending lines and have "gathered up all the books".

This is an extremely foolish case. Words in a book. A novel. A novel that never sold more than a few copies, a novel no one has a copy of now. A novel that basically does not exist. But Thailand considers itself part of the free world. The King says that people should be able to criticize the King, but then stands by silently while people are thrown in the dungeon for allegations some fool in public has leveled against any individual.

The King of Thailand is obligated to bring an end to the draconian Les Majeste laws. He must begin to support democracy for the Thai people so often kept in the dark, atrocities not coming to light for years and decades after the abuses took place.

We call on all people of good heart to protest the case and imprisonment of Harry Nicolaides. The time for polite speech is over.

The Australian Government should be ashamed of having abandoned one of their citizens to prison in this fashion. Drug runners and women abusers from foreign countries abound in Thailand, sex traffickers, paedophiles, confidence men and crooks of every kind, but Harry has been left in prison by his government over three lines of ink in a book no one apparently has ever seen.

Only your voice will make a difference.

MEDIA RELEASE

Harry Nicolaides is a famous tourism-award winning Australian and
best selling Australian author. His first book "Concierge
Confidential - published in 2002, generated unprecedented national
publicity and attracted reviews from Australian political leaders
and world famous sporting and entertainment figures. An iconic
figure in the hospitality industry as magazine publisher, radio
commentator and service professional, Harry was immortalised in
Michael Heppell"s international best seller - Be Brilliant "as an
individual who achieved brilliance with raw talent and tenacity.

In 2003 Harry Nicolaides relocated to live in Thailand for two
years. He worked as lecturer in Social Psychology at The Prince Of
Songkla University in Phuket, where he taught for over a year. He
drove across Thailand from south to north and gathered material for
his new book. He is currently a lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality
at Mae Fah Luang University in Northern Thailand and living in the
heart of the Golden Triangle - Chiang Rai.

His new novel "VERISIMILITUDE "is a trenchant commentary on the
political and social life of contemporary Thailand. It is an
uncompromising assault on the patrician values of the monarchy, the
insidious infiltration of religious missionaries in the education
system and the intimate relationship between American foreign policy
and Thailand"s battle against Muslim insurrections in the south.

Savage, ruthless and unforgiving, VERISIMILITUDE pulls away the mask
of benign congeniality that Thailand has disguised itself with for
decades and reveals a people who are obsessed with Western affluence
and materialism and who trade their cultural integrity and personal
honour for the baubles of Babylonian America.

Excerpt from VERISIMILITUDE:

"From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for
their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had
many wives "major and minor "with a coterie of concubines for
entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire
family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed
indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and
fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in
love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her
family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all
vestiges of their existence expunged forever."

BOOK REVIEWS

"VERISIMILITUDE is an undisguised bold-faced assault on Thailand"s
presentation culture and its rank obsessions with the appearance of
truth and the semblance of reality. The truth is a casualty in a
climate of political chicanery, expedient educational practices,
routine self-aggrandisement and wholesale conformity. A post-modern,
allegorical twist on the timeless fable of The Emperor"s New
Clothes. Nothing is as it appears. Trust your instincts!"
___________________________________

"Thailand and America have had close relations since the end of the
Second World War and the defeat of the Japanese. During the 1960"s
large US airfields and military installations were developed in
Thailand to thwart the spread of communism in South East Asia. In
the book, VERISIMILITUDE, Harry Nicolaides contends that the USA is
still in Thailand today advancing the interests of economic
imperialism at the expense of cultural integrity and diversity."
___________________________________

"VERISIMILITUDE has set the scene for the monumental struggle of
belief systems on the soil-cracked battleground of the Third World.
Buddhism and traditional Thai values are being threatened by the
commercial imperatives that dominate the family and individual as
everyone is swept up by the race along the economic superhighway."
____________________________________

"The American soldiers may have left Thailand after the Vietnam War
but today, in VERISIMILITUDE, they have been replaced by hyperbolic
Evangelical missionaries, church planting with George Bush"s money.
This is the new face of the foot soldiers of American foreign policy
in South East Asia."
____________________________________

"Domination and control "these are the objectives of the new
American religious right wing together with the subtle stratagems of
manipulation administered by a Republican administration in the USA
that VERISIMILITUDE identifies with lacerating insight. In Thailand,
they have infiltrated schools and universities to influence the
content of educational curriculums to transmit their hidden agenda
while the local authorities receive massive financial grants in
exchange for their collusion."

"Polygamy, indentured servitude and the sexual exploitation of women
flourish in Thailand under an oppressive patriarchal social system.
In VERISIMILITUDE, the impunity of the nation"s ruling elite stands
unchallenged by the lower classes who imitate, like grotesque
acolytes, the predilections and peccadillos of their rulers."
________________________________

"Tell the tailors to tie a knot in their thread before they take the
first stitch "The nefarious incarnation of Dr Jekyl was Tom Hyde.
He spoke these enigmatic words standing on the gallows to hang.
VERISIMILITUDE puts Thailand on trial revealing that in Thailand it
is more important to save face than tell the truth. The book also
examines the consequences of a policy of being expedient with the
facts."
________________________________

"VERISIMILITUDE begins and ends with the same passage in what is a
Homeric cycle of trials and tribulations only to return to the place
the journey started and see it for the first time. This is the
archetypal Odyssean journey where the protagonist sets out to
achieve modest ambitions but instead finds himself trapped by the
eternal paradoxes of love and identity."
________________________________
 
"On one level, VERISIMILITUDE is a tale of a tortured relationship
and on another allegorical level it explores the development of
Thailand as an emerging Third world country grappling with
corruption, nepotism and a sycophantic adoration of Western
affluence and materialism."
________________________________

"VERISIMILITUDE asks the most important question of our age "to
what degree is the world we see around us a projection of our
prejudices, beliefs and language and of the two worlds we inhabit "
the reflection in the glass pane and the world beyond the glass "
which is "reality". In Thailand image is reality."
_________________________________

"VERISIMILITUDE ends how it begins "decidedly ambiguous. Each
reader will project their own values on a textual surface that is
subject to multiple interpretations. The reader is drawn into the
author"s obsession to explore the mysterious relationship between
empirical truth and social constructs and the interplay between
light and shadow."
______________________________

"A bird is trapped by the false azure in a glass window pane. It is
transfixed by the reflection not able to determine whether it is
real or not. The bird must fly away to be free. In VERISIMILITUDE
the protagonist must choose to stay with the woman who says she
loves him or leave her, to be free."
______________________________

"A dead butterfly. Fallen Frangipani flowers. Counterfeit artworks.
They all look vibrant, alive and enigmatic. And they all make
promises that they can"t fulfil. In VERISIMILITUDE the protagonist
discovers that love is expertly reproduced, word for word, sigh for
sigh, like the ubiquitous elephant figurine in the Bazaar. In
Thailand, love was sold on a stick, seasoned with sugar and spice
and lightly roasted by flames leaping about like the forked tail of
the devil. Caveat Emptor."
_______________________________

"The grim reality about generational debt bondage in the Third World
and the enslavement of Thai women into the sex industry are revealed
in VERISIMILITUDE. Towns in Northern Thailand whose populations have
been decimated by the AIDS virus have been left as dustbowls
littered with orphans, widows and stray dogs. This is the horror of
the truth not dissembled by politicians, deconstructed by academics
or finessed by journalists."

21-01-09 The world’s just wild about Harry: Harry Nicolaides, Thailand’s latest political prisoner.

SIGN THE PETITION: FREE HARRY NICOLAIDES! http://www.harrynicolaides.com/

http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/21/harry-nicolaides-thailands-latest-political-prisoner/

By virtue of our long-standing campaign against all censorship, in Thailand, and everywhere else, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is looked upon to comment sensibly upon the sentencing of Australian novelist and academic, Harry Nicolaides, for lèse majesté. His sentence was six years, merely reduced to three by virtue of his guilty plea, which is common to Thai courts.

This single case has caused more comments to FACTsite than ever before. However, when Thais are arrested for lèse majesté, the world community stands aloof.

Freedom of expression comes with responsibility to the wider virtual, and human, community. FACT will never tolerate insult (some conservatives might say defamation) to any individual be they Royal or commoner. We’re all in this together. Although public figures in every country must accept a wider latitude in criticism, insult, gossip and slander should never be tolerated.

Therefore, for the first time, we have felt obligated to edit comments to FACTsite, primarily due to profanity but also due to direct defamation. No one, be they King or commoner, deserves such brainless vitriol.

FACTsite is a forum for readers to discuss all censorship issues. It is not a playground for people to hurl insults. Such insults only stifle free discussion and waste everyone’s time.

Thai Monarchy 101 Many of FACT’s foreign readers have little understanding of the complex realities of Thai existence. We have no doubt whatsoever that His Majesty King Bhumibol is a good person who has tread a treacherous political landscape for 60 years. The monarchy has prospered under King Bhumibol with a following among Thais which grew exponentially until our situation became the cult of Royalty which exists today.

There was a long hiatus in Thai royalty when Rama VII abdicated in 1935 after Thailand was reinvented as a Constitutional monarchy. This left Thailand without a monarch during the Japanese occupation. King Bhumibol’s elder brother, King Ananda Mahidol, took the throne in 1946 after growing up abroad, to the great joy of Thai people.

Conspiracy theories abound, the subject of many books banned in Thailand, but King Ananda was found dead of a gunshot wound and his younger brother, King Bhumibol, was crowned Rama IX. One premise of the title of The King Never Smiles by Paul M. Handley is that King Bhumibol never really recovered from the pointless death of his beloved elder brother.

Rama VIII’s death was particularly pointless because this 20-year old king, raised abroad, had no real power or even influence. In fact, Thai people were really just getting used to the idea of having a king again. All facts point that Thais were thirsty for a monarch, be he Constitutional figurehead or real leader.

King Bhumibol, Rama IX King Bhumibol has been both symbol and leader with great finesse. Like any leader he has had to make difficult, fearless political decisions. That a cult of Royalty has grown around him has nothing to do with Bhumibol the King or the man himself.

Some of us in Thailand may not like some of the choices our King has made but that is true of any leader in any country. King Bhumibol is not in any way responsible for the lèse majesté cancer which blights our nation. The Royal cult and its position of attempting to crush all dissent through censorship is not Bhumibol’s choice. In fact, the King is famously quoted as inviting the criticism of his people, saying that any less would mean he is less than human.

The Thai elite, in particular, Thai government bureaucrats, love the King as symbol but never listen to his meaning.

In a word, it’s all about money. Many Thais have sought to promote their own prosperity by appearing close to the monarchy. This is simply a craven, greedy culture of appearing more Royal-than-thou. After all, who would not wish to appear friends with the world’s richest Royal? Some critics have opined that the cult of monarchy was created to be a self-perpetuating money machine. So what?

In 1974, King Bhumibol took the unprecedented step of seeking a change in the Thai Constitution to declare his second-eldest daughter Crown Princess. The Rama lineage now includes daughters as well as sons.

Lèse majesté and censorship
What is curious to us is that lèse majesté only consists of opinions expressed in public. Speeches, writing and even quotations for a general audience are all considered lèse majesté. Our observation is that Thais are more distressed if these comments are in English; comments in Thai, if expressed responsibly, are far more tolerated. Believe me, we in Thailand talk about all these issues in private, among our family, colleagues, peers and even students all the time and no one finds it disrespectful.

What we at FACT find incredible is that Thai government thinks there are at least 2,700 people in the world who care enough to defame the Thai monarchy. This figure consists of the 2,300 websites our ICT ministry claims to block, by court order as required by Thai law, plus the 400 further websites it seeks to block.

Really, nearly 3,000 people give a damn about Thai monarchy? The Thai justice minister places the figure at 10,000. Patently absurd! And he wants a blanket ban on all media reporting of lèse majesté cases, creating secret government and secret courts. Under current law, anyone can accuse anyone else of lèse majesté, resulting in criminal charges, and the accused never even has the opportunity to learn who made the accusation! Too many secrets.

We are being played for patsies. At the time of King Bhumibol’s 60th anniversary celebrations, Thai police were quoted as saying 60 lèse majesté cases were pending. Today, we know of at least 34 lèse majesté cases and we suspect that is just the tip of the censorship iceberg. Many of these “perps” wish to remain anonymous due to the enormous social stigma of such allegations in Thailand.

Thailand in the world spotlight
Thailand was once again brought to world attention when yellow-shirted thugs shut down Bangkok’s international airport. They wore yellow shirts because the King was born on a Monday and the colour for that day is yellow. This had been going on for a year before the 60th celebrations, at least every Monday, a huge yellow industry had been created and most of us had grown pretty tired of yellow well before the mob.

The mob calls itself the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Its supporters’ core belief is that stupid people always vote for the wrong guy so we should disenfranchise stupid people and only allow the educated elite (read: rich) to vote. (That would give those bean counters a lot less work!)

Their equally thuggish counterparts are the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship. They find it undemocratic that our hugely-elected prime minister was deposed by military coup d’etat in 2006. Of course, he must have been elected by stupid people!

Note that the common element here is “democracy”! Not only do both sides claim to be fighting to restore “democracy” (whatever that is) to Thailand but both sides claim to be doing so to defend the monarchy.

We pose a crucial question: Does King Bhumibol need our defence? Commonly, a leader needs support from a position of weakness and King is indisputedly a very strong leader.

Harry Nicolaides
So why did Thai government seek to pursue its lèse majesté case against Harry Nicolaides? They did it to appear tough, to declare open war on any commentary surrounding the monarchy and to create a climate of fear in Thailand in which censorship would be accepted as necessary. They picked a weak target to demonstrate even foreigners were not immune.

Harry’s case may not be about a need to protect our King. It is far more likely that government is paving the way to protect the next king, or queen, Rama X, who will be a completely untried and untested monarch when they succeed the throne.

Many people have criticised King Bhumibol for not speaking out. After all, he could stop this lèse majesté insanity with a few words. But the King in 60 years has never given direct advice to his people although he has intervened in several crisis situations. Our King simply does not think that it is the role of a Constitutional monarch to manage the country. He does not think it fruitful to be involved in the pettiness of Thai politics. We can accept the King’s role as it is.

Verisimilitude
The Harry Nicolaides case raises vital issues, procedurally, legally and in Thai society. Was Harry arrested because he wrote in English and therefore his self-published expat bargirl novel of 50 paid-for vanity copies of which seven (we repeat, seven) copies were actually sold, represented a clear and present danger to the Thai monarchy from the world community?

Seven copies sold is being generous: Harry’s book, Verisimilitude, actually has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), the identifier for all books published since 1966. The book also bears the imprimatur, “Printed in Thailand”.

All ISBNs are attached to publishing houses, even one-time wonders; so far, we have been unable to find the numerical prefix relating to any Thai or overseas publisher. As to “Printed in Thailand”: despite great investigation, we have been unable to uncover the printing house responsible for this largely-unedited novel.

Let’s repeat that, too: a novel. As in, work of fiction. Other than cleverly (but thinly)-disguised reminiscences of Harry’s fascination about the way pay-for-play sex works in Thailand and his all-too-human interest in the birds-and-the-bees of Thai interrelationships, there is (drumroll, pregnant pause) one paragraph, precisely 103 words (if one can count “a”, “and” and “the”) of commentary regarding a fictional crown prince. One paragraph of 226 pages, with no further explanations. The offending paragraph may be read here: http://www.akha.org/content/bookreviews/harrynicolaides.html

Now, because Harry’s novel is set in Thailand, the reader might presume this fiction refers to our crown prince. But…wait a minute: The law is very precise as to proof and the fat lady has most definitely not even started singing on this one!

The charges against Harry are the supposition that his paragraph refers to a real person. Where Harry really went wrong was that he thought he understood Thai values, culture and sensibilities after short teaching stints at two Thai universities. Most Thais don’t even understand Thailand!

Verisimilitude is not banned in Thailand Furthermore, ever since Harry’s arrest, we’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of Versimilitude. Harry’s friends, family and lawyer couldn’t get us one. Finally, we were pointed to a copy on public shelves at Thailand’s National Library where it remains today. Thailand’s Printing Act is very specific in regards banned books. They must be presented to Parliament and listed in the Royal Gazette. As this has not (yet) occurred, Verisimilitude is not a banned book.

Let us charitably say that Harry was a bit infatuated by authorship. In Thailand, as in every country subscribing to international copyright conventions, a publisher is required to submit two copies of a printed work to the national library.

However, that just wasn’t good enough for Harry. He submitted copies to the Royal household, the Ministry of Culture and the Foreign Ministry. Eventually, some bureaucrat must have found themselves bored enough to read Harry’s book. Which is where Harry’s troubles started. Who in Thai government had an agenda?

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) committed itself to posting Harry’s book, Verisimilitude, online at FACTsite in advance of his trial. However, Harry’s lawyer requested we not do so.

While we waited on this issue and received literally hundreds of requests for the book, we realised that making Verisimilitude available was simply not the point. The point is its censorship and that every person has the basic human right to free expression.

Read Verisimilitude for yourself Verisimilitude will be posted to FACT’s Banned Books Project: Celsius 233 at Internet Archive with mirror sites at six universities if you want to wait.

Meanwhile, the book is available here: http://tinyurl.com/thai-persecutionand here: http://media.portland.indymedia.org/media/2009/01/385164.pdf and here: http://psydj.tv/text/verisimilitude-harry-nicolaides.pdf and here: http://www.final4ever.ws/showthread.php?p=649131. Wikileaks also hosts the complete book using SSL encryption and TOR for download from ten countries: http://wikileaks.org/leak/verisimilitude-harry-nicolaides.pdf.

Further references may be found on Wikileaks:http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Imprisoned_Australian_author_Harry_Nicolaides_censored_novel:_Verismilitude,_extract,_2005 and Wikinews:
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Australian_writer_Harry_Nicolaides_jailed_for_three_years_for_insulting_Thai_Royal_Family.

Harry has been quoted numerous times about how hard he’s doing in Thai gaols, fifty men to a cell, and so forth. Yep, Harry, that’s what gaol is all about. Find yourself in there, you’re a smart guy, start to work the system to make it better for everybody and, by so doing, by offering up that compassion, also make it better for yourself. Our sympathies lie in the fact that it must not be easy explaining yourself, that you love the King, to 3000 father-rapers who all say they’re not guilty.

So Harry, or perhaps his family, picked an Australian SC, Senior Counsel, to “defend” his case. It didn’t matter that Mark Dean knew absolutely nothing about Thai law or Thai sensibilities or that Thai courts are conducted in Thai-duh! Of course, Harry had a Thai counterpart but Mark Dean made all Harry’s decisions. Mark Dean’s decision to plead Harry guilty was exactly the same decision a for-profit lawyer would have made in convict Australia: “C’mon, mate, just plead guilty and the judge’ll go easier on you.”

We all know that, in any country, that’s simply not true. The judges simply start at a higher number and the prisoner serves the same. Justice is served, cold and bland, thank you very much, next case.

Of course, in Harry’s case, the eyes of the world had already been focussed on Thailand because of our crazy political conflicts. So the international press was hanging on Harry’s decision, to make Harry news, no matter what happened. Do we care how we look to the rest of the world?

What is lese majeste law?
There is not really a legally-defined lese majeste law in Thailand. Lese majeste falls under several sections of the Thai criminal code, principally Article 112 regarding defamation, insult or threat. However, Article 112 was never intended to cover the printed word. It covers speech. That’s not what our Harry was charged with.

If one defames, insults or threatens the Thai monarchy on the Internet, for example, there are provisions for one’s arrest under the military-promulgated Computer-Related Crimes Act 2007. This cybercrime law’s data retention provisions enable Thai police to hunt you down from your IP address.

Similarly, Printing Acts were brought into force both in 1941 and 2007. The 1941 act initially provided for the detention of offenders but this act was later amended so that the stipulation was that all copies of an offending work and its printing plates (trickier in the 21st century) be seized. After some period of unsuccessful appeal, the publications were to be destroyed. The 2007 Printing Act retained those provisions.

There is no provision in Thai law for the arrest and detention of an author or publisher. So Harry was wrongfully charged. Thai law specifies that no one may impugn a Thai court judgement without risking contempt of court. But the judges were considering Harry’s case under the wrong law.

Thai academic Giles Ji Ungphakorn is similarly wrongly charged over his book, A Coup for the Rich, which is still widely available on the Internet.

The book in English may be downloaded here: http://www.isj.org.uk/docs/CFRbook.pdf and here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6310927/A-Coup-for-the-Rich and in Thai, English and French here: http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/2009/01/12/3588-3604-3637-3627-3617-3636-3656-3609-les-majesty-case-5366164.

The paragraphs with which Ajarn Giles has been charged may be found in English here: http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/2009/01/20/3619-3634-3618-3621-3632-3648-3629-3637-3618-3604-3586-3657-3629-3585-3621-3656-3634-3623-3627-3634-the-charges-against-me-5411862 and in Thai here: http://data5.blog.de/media/134/3160134_a2494d6255_d.pdf

Most books, including Verisimilitude and A Coup for the Rich, develop little following until they are banned. Similarly, websites never become popular until they are blocked. Then everybody wants to read them! Before the censorship, who would even know about them or even stumble across them.

The censors’ plans always backfire but they keep banning books and blocking websites over and over again acting, in effect, like an advertising agency for banned content! (Maybe they’re some of the people should not be allowed to vote!) We hope Harry will sell a lot of copies on his release!

Harry was a pawn in their game. Thai government is not going to find Thai activists such pushovers. Many so accused will turn and fight.

And Harry pled guilty. Pleading guilty in any country means that an accused forgoes their innate human right to presumption of innocence.

Harry pled guilty to a crime he did not commit under Thai law.

Harry’s arrest and sentence are about the structure of Thai power politics and the financial security of those who think government censorship works just fine for them. But nothing to do with justice.

FACT’s position statement
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) demands the repeal of lèse majesté law, in the Criminal Code, in the Computer-Related Crimes Act and in the Printing Act. Lèse majesté law does not serve Thai society and is only used by self-serving bureaucrats for political ends. FACT demands the unconditional release of all Thailand’s lèse majesté prisoners now.

Harry Nicolaides is Thailand’s latest political prisoner. Free Harry NOW!

CJ Hinke
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
http://facthai.wordpress.com
email. facthai@gmail.com

Readers may also wish to look to other sites supporting Harry:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14684343@N00/3210354556/
http://hocuslocus.blogspot.com/2009/01/speak-up.html

Harry in world’s spotlight
21-01-09
Harry’s lese majeste case captures world spotlight.

News articles about Harry’s sentence are too numerous to repost. Here’s a fairly comprehensive selection but far from complete.

The YouTube clip from Reuters is quite good. Cable News Network (CNN) spoke honestly in failing to report the case as it feared for the safety of its staff based in Thailand. Unlike CNN, many of the news sources below quote the paragraph which earned Harry three years.

We have tried to link to articles which offer in-depth coverage and different points of view. The list is far from complete and only references articles in English. There are well over 1,500 articles about Harry’s sentencing alone.

We hope such world attention will shame Thailand into freeing Harry.

Read the Wikinews entry first; it will likely soon be blocked.

However, the following quote in the Australian Associated Press is most revealing:

“Minister counsellor at the Thai Embassy in Canberra, Saksee Phromyothi, said the law was in place because under Thailand’s constitution the king was above politics and could not publicly defend himself from personal attacks.

The king himself did not support the law, he said.”

If the King does not support this law, why are we acting against the King???

Adelaide Now http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,24939928-912,00.html?from=public_rss

Agence France-Presse http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090119/en_afp/thailandaustraliacrimeroyals

America Online (AOL) http://news.aol.com/article/australian-sentenced-to-3-years-in/310736

Associated Press http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090119/ap_on_re_as/as_thailand_australia_monarchy

The Australian http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,24935545-2702,00.html?from=public_rss

Australian Broadcasting Corporation http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/20/2469607.htm?site=local and ABC Radio http://www.prachatai.com/english/news.php?id=949

Bangkok News and Reviews http://www.matthewhunt.com/blog/2009/01/harry-nicolaides-jailed.html

Bangkok Post http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/10026/aussie-author-gets-three-year-jail-sentence-for-lese-majeste

Cable News Network (CNN) http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/01/19/thai.jail/

Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/turn-the-page-on-authors-sentence/1412331.aspx?storypage=0 and http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/pm-should-have-done-more-for-jailed-writer/1412203.aspx?storypage=0 and http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24936134-663,00.html

Capital News http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/International/Media-condemn-Aussie’s-term-for-royal-insult-2989.html

Costa del Gangster http://costadelgangster.blogspot.com/2009/01/sentenced-harry-nicolaides-to-six-years.html

Courier-Mail http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,20797,24937333-5003402,00.html?from=public_rss

English PEN http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/thailandaustralianwritersentencedtothreeyears/

Finding Dulcinea http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Asia-Pacific/2009/jan/Australian-Author-Harry-Nicolaides-Jailed-for-Insulting-Thai-Royalty.html

Global Voices Online http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/20/thailand-australian-writer-jailed-for-lese-majeste/

The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/19/thailand-nicolaides-court-monarchy

Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/19/australian-harry-nicolaid_n_159025.html

Greek City http://www.greekcity.com.au/content.cfm?id=4569

Inform.com http://www.inform.com/Harry+Nicolaides,Criminal+Sentencing+and+Punishment

International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/19/news/thai.1-410745.php

Lawrence (USA) Journal-World & News http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jan/20/australian-convicted-insulting-monarchy/

Manningham Leader http://manningham-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/comments/family-of-doncaster-author-harry-nicolaides-set-to-appeal-over-thai-jail-se/

Live News http://livenews.com.au/Articles/2009/01/19/Aussie_author_admits_insulting_Thai_king

Melbourne Herald Sun http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24936134-663,00.html and
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24936759-661,00.html and
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24936134-662,00.html and
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24937327-661,00.html?from=public_rss

Morningstar http://news.morningstar.com/newsnet/ViewNews.aspx?article=/DJ/200901200015DOWJONESDJONLINE000005_univ.xml

The Nation, Bangkok http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/20/national/national_30093636.php and http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/19/national/national_30093593.php

The Nation’s State http://nationsstate.blogspot.com/2008/10/lse-majest-and-harry-nicolaides.html

New Mandala http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/2008/10/02/lese-majeste-and-harry-nicolaides/

The New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2009/01/in-the-news-goo.html

New York Post http://www.nypost.com/seven/01202009/news/worldnews/thailand_jails_scribe_150995.htm

The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/20/world/asia/20thai.html?em

Radio Australia http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/200901/s2470076.htm

Radio New Zealand http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2009/01/20/1245987867ca

Reporters Without Borders http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30031

Scotsman http://news.scotsman.com/world/Thai-court-jails–Australian.4892023.jp

Sky News http://indepth.news.sky.com/InDepth/topic/Harry_Nicolaides

Southeast Asia Press Association / International Freedom of Expression eXchange http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99972/

The Star, Malaysia http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/20/apworld/20090120095138

Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/plea-for-mercy-for-jailed-author/2009/01/19/1232213495735.html and http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/senator-takes-up-cause-of-jailed-writer/2009/01/20/1232213646792.html

The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/thailand/4289483/Thailand-jails-Australian-for-insulting-monarchy.html

Thai-Blogs http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php/2009/01/19/harry-nicolaides-and-the-lese-majeste-la?blog=5

The Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5548419.ece

United Nations Human Rights Commission http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/category,COI,,,,4975960c1e,0.html

The West http://blogs.thewest.com.au/news/paul-murray-author-jailed-did-the-thais-get-it-wrong/

Wikinews
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Australian_writer_Harry_Nicolaides_jailed_for_three_years_for_insulting_Thai_Royal_Family

Wooly Days: http://nebuchadnezzarwoollyd.blogspot.com/2009/01/harry-nicolaides-is-latest-victim-of.html

Yahoo! News http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/5273568/thai-official-defends-lese-majesty-laws/

and even YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBnYtXvFgXM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dwNoHZMBCc

Wikileaks defends Thai writers charged
21-01-09
Thailand must stop imprisoning and censoring writers
Wikileaks: January 20, 2009

PLEASE CIRCULATE THE PETITION LETTER BELOW!

What do imprisoned Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, BBC correspondent Joathan Head, Thai Prof. Giles Ji Ungpakorn and social critic Sulak Silvaraska have in common?

They are some of the many detained or facing charges under Thailand’s “lese Majesty” laws for criticizing the dealings of the monarchy.

Please sign and distribute the following demand on behalf of those imprisoned and charged:

We, the undersigned, oppose the use of lese majeste in Thailand in order to prevent freedom of speech and academic freedom. We demand that the government cease all proceedings in lese Majeste cases.

The 19th September 2006 military coup in Thailand claimed “Royal legitimacy” in order to hide the authoritarian intentions of the military junta. Lese Majeste charges have not been used to protect “Thai Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy” as claimed. The charges are used against people who criticized the coup and disagree with the present destruction of democracy. They are used to create a climate of fear and censorship.

One obvious case is that of Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He is facing Lese Majeste charges for writing a book–”A Coup for the Rich”, which criticized the 2006 military coup.

Others who have been accused of Lese Majeste are former government minister Jakrapob Penkair, who asked a question at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Bangkok about exactly what kind of monarchy we have in Thailand.

There is also the case of Chotisak Onsoong, a young student who failed to stand for the King’s anthem in the cinema.

Apart from this there are the cases of Da Torpedo and Boonyuen Prasertying.

In addition to those who opposed the coup, Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in prison, and the BBC correspondent Jonathan Head and Thai social critic Sulak Sivaraksa are facing charges.

The latest person to be thrown into jail and refused bail is Suwicha Thakor, who is charged with Lese Majeste for surfing the Internet.

The Thai Minister of Justice has called for a blanket ban on reporting these cases in the Thai media. The main stream Thai media are obliging.

Thus we are seeing a medieval style witch hunt taking place in Thailand with “secret” trials in the courts.

The Justice Ministry is also refusing to publish figures of lese majeste cases.

We call for the abolition of lese Majeste laws in Thailand and the defense of freedom and democracy.

Please send your full name to: wl-thailand@sunshinepress.org, Giles.LesseMajeste@gmail.com, ji.ungpakorn@gmail.com

See:
https://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/Imprisoned_Australian_author_Harry_Nicolaides_censored_novel:_Verismilitude%2C_extract%2C_2005
https://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/A_Coup_for_the_Rich:_Thailand%27s_Political_Crisis%2C_2007
https://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/1%2C203_new_websites_censored_by_Thailand
https://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Thailand

The view from Australia-Canberra Times
21-01-09
Turn the page on author’s sentence
Canberra Times: January 21, 2009

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/turn-the-page-on-authors-sentence/1412331.aspx?storypage=0

Not many of the tens of thousands of Australian tourists who travel to Thailand every year would be aware of the extent to which ordinary Thais revere their king, and how they (and the state) take considerable umbrage at any unfavourable public comment regarding the monarchy.

After Melbourne man Harry Nicolaides was convicted in a Bangkok criminal court on Monday of violating Thailand’s lese majeste law, however, many more Australians will be now be aware that to insult, ridicule or bring the royal family and the monarchy into disrepute, even obliquely, can invite harsh punishment. In Nicolaides’s case, three years’ imprisonment; and that was after he’d publicly apologised to the royal family and the Thai people for any offence caused by his ”reckless choice of words”, and pleaded guilty to the charge. Otherwise, he might have found himself locked up for 15 years.

And the full extent of his crime? To publish a book which contained the following passage, ”From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The crown prince had many wives, ‘major and minor’, with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried another woman, and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives, and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.”

That the book is a more or less fictional work, was self-published (in English) and sold fewer than 10 copies, were judged not to be mitigating factors. Nicolaides had ”libelled the King, the Crown Prince, and Thailand”, the judge said. Case closed.

Those more familiar with Thailand know the royal family, both past and present, are regarded as strictly off limits to any kind of discussion other than fulsome praise and veneration. The 1951 musical The King and I based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 book Anna and the King of Siam, which in turn was based on Anna Leonowen’s 19th century memoirs, The English governess at the Siamese Court , scandalised Thais with its portrayal of the revered King Mongkut and that protectiveness continues.

A Swiss tourist caught on video camera defacing posters of King Bhumibol in December 2006 was charged with violating the lese majeste law, found guilty and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment last March, having spent the interim time in remand. He was pardoned by the king shortly after, and deported.

Nicolaides, who first travelled to Thailand in 2003 and returned to work there in 2007, seems to have been well aware of the royal family’s exalted status in Thailand. It has been reported that after the book was printed in 2005, Nicolaides took the trouble to send copies to the Thai Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs, the national library and the Bureau of the Royal Household, for approval.

Nothing was heard back, and, with the book apparently having sunk into obscurity and having not sold, Nicolaides seems to have given the matter no further thought. Nevertheless, authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on March 17, 2008, even though Nicolaides was not told he was under investigation. Even then, he left and re-entered the country without difficulty before finally being arrested at the end of last August. It would be easy to dismiss the Nicolaides case as nothing more than a case of a culturally ignorant or insensitive foreigner falling foul of a little-used statute, but there is considerable evidence Thailand’s lese majeste law is being utilised by forces sympathetic to the monarchy (to stifle any kind of domestic debate about the role of the royal family in Thailand’s political system) and by politicians who use it to smear their opponents by accusing them of disloyalty to King Bhumibol.

While the monarchy is theoretically above the hurly-burly of politics, suspicions continue to arise about its sympathies and its involvement in Thailand’s political machinations, of which there have been many in years past. Most recently, anti-government forces claimed the support of the king in their attempt to force the resignation of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (and two of his successors) and their opponents. The lese majeste law ensures they remain whispered suspicions, however, despite the enormous political damage done to Thai democracy by the anti-democratic protests.

As with the drunken Swiss tourist, Nicolaides will almost certainly be deported in the near future, but his arrest raises serious questions about freedom of speech and political expression in Thailand. Only by abolishing or watering down this archaic statute can democracy and the rule of law really take root in Thailand, but so far few are prepared to say it, and those that do risk their freedom.

Lèse majesté and Harry Nicolaides-New Mandala
21-01-09
[FACT comments: New Mandala is a widely-respected academic site of commentary and discussion on Thailand hosted at the Australian National University. However, in the present climate of Royal witchhunt, it is impossible for even responsible academics to appear neutral. How can we stand idly by when our colleagues are arrested and gaoled for purely political reasons?

Lèse majesté and Harry Nicolaides
Andrew Walker and Nicholas Farrelly
New Mandala: October 2nd, 2008

http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/2008/10/02/lese-majeste-and-harry-nicolaides/

In Thailand the legal system seeks to ensure that public comment about the monarchy can only be favourable. Under the lèse majesté provision of the criminal code, any action that insults or disrespects the royal family can bring a sentence of up to 15-years behind bars.

The most recent victim of this law is Melbourne man Harry Nicolaides, who has worked in Thailand as a university lecturer and freelance writer. He was arrested at Bangkok airport on 31 August 2008. As Nicolaides continues to languish in a Bangkok prison cell, the use and abuse of the lèse majesté law has received a modicum of worldwide scrutiny. However since 21 September, Nicolaides’ case has been completely out of the news.

He has been quietly forgotten.

Lèse majesté is a weapon used to defend the perceived honour of Thailand’s royal family. According to Paul Handley, the author of an unauthorised 2006 biography of the king, “[i]n Thailand, all that truly stands between royal virtue and London-tabloid-style media treatment is the lèse majesté statute.”

Since Handley’s controversial book–which is banned in Thailand–there have been a number of high-profile cases of lèse majesté involving foreigners. The two most recent instances where accusations have been levelled at non-Thais are illustrative of the problems with implementing this law.

In December 2006 Oliver Jufer was charged with the offence after defacing images of the king in Chiang Mai during a drunken spree. He was held for four months without bail, and after a quick trial was sentenced to ten years in prison. Jufer served another few weeks before he was pardoned by the king and deported to his native Switzerland. At the time, outrage about his draconian treatment for an act of immature vandalism led to even more outlandish attacks on the Thai monarchy. There was a flurry of provocative and childish online protests that used the global reach of the YouTube video-sharing website to mock the Thai royals. In response, the Thai government banned YouTube. This sparked further international bemusement and condemnation. To conform to local expectations of fair comment, YouTube is today only available in Thailand in filtered form.

Since the Jufer fiasco, in April 2008 the BBC’s Bangkok correspondent Jonathan Head has been embroiled in a lèse majesté fight of his own. He has not been charged but is the subject of ongoing investigations. Head’s case is related to that of Jakrapob Penkair, an outspoken critic of military intervention in Thai politics and an eloquent ally of deposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Comments made to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand during 2007 landed both men in trouble.

When only Thais are involved, lèse majesté does not get as much attention. But one case that has entranced the international press involved student activist and social critic, Chotisak Onsoong. Earlier this year he was charged with lèse majesté after refusing to stand during the playing of the king’s anthem at a Bangkok cinema. Almost unique among recent lèse majesté cases, Chotisak welcomed the charge with further acts of public defiance.

The view of the king himself on lèse majesté is not completely clear. In his 2005 birthday speech he cautioned against the over-exuberant use of this criminal provision. Nonetheless many factions within the Thai elite continue to indulge in episodes of lèse majesté accusation and counter-accusation to score political points. The king’s formidable media management apparatus is apparently comfortable with this situation. While he may have some personal reservations, the king has yet to make any explicit recommendation that lèse majesté be abolished. Perhaps it remains too useful as a tool for stifling open public debate about the role of the royal family in national political and economic life. Lèse majesté helps guarantee an unrelenting public diet of positive royal news.

In Thailand, it is even hard to report the details of a lèse majesté charge without fear of sanction. Detailed reporting runs the risk of repeating the offence. Self-censorship reigns. So Harry Nicolaides will be unlikely to ever see substantial details about his case published in the Thai media.

Hopefully foreign journalists will exercise their greater freedom to report on his predicament. Some, including the BBC’s Jonathan Head, The Age’s Peter Gregory, Reuters, the Associated Press and Reporters Without Borders have already made important contributions. But for the past two weeks there has been silence.

All reports suggest that the charge relates to a passage in an obscure book published by Nicolaides that describes the rather flamboyant private life of a Thai prince. This may have been an error of judgement on Nicolaides’ part but it does not, in any way, justify his current treatment. Respect for other country’s legal systems is all very well. But this is a law that silences Thais and foreigners alike. It prevents what we would regard as perfectly normal, if somewhat prurient, reporting on royal lives. More importantly, it muzzles public discussion of a range of issues that lie at the heart of Thailand’s ongoing political crisis.

The Australian media could be doing more to highlight the plight of Nicolaides and to open up broader regional discussion on this outdated taboo.

Lese majeste cases in Thailand-RSF
21-01-09
Australian writer gets three years in prison for lese majeste
Reporters Without Borders: January 20, 2009

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30031
Français : http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30029
Espanol : http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30030

Reporters Without Borders condemns the three-year prison sentence which Australian writer Harry Nicolaides received today from the Bangkok criminal court on a charge of lese majeste under article 112 of the criminal code for briefly alluding in a novel to the way King Bhumipol’s son treated one of his mistresses. Nicolaides pleaded guilty and asked the court to show clemency.

“Nicolaides was given the lightest sentence envisaged under the lese majeste law but this is nonetheless a serious violation of free expression.” Reporters Without Borders said. “The growing number of arrests on lese majeste charges and Nicolaides conviction today are disturbing developments that confirm our of fear of a dangerous politicisation of lese majeste, which is now apparently being used to silence people. We call for a review of Nicolaides’ case and his rapid release.”

A judge told the court : “He was found guilty under criminal law article 112 and the court has sentenced him to six years, but due to his confession, which is beneficial to the case, the sentence is reduced to three years.” “He has written a book that slandered the king, the crown prince and Thailand and the monarchy,” he added.

Questioned by the BBC prior to the verdict, Nicolaides said: “Truth is stranger than fiction. This has to be a bad dream. It cannot possibly be real. I regret that my family is suffering and I want to apologize to all of them.”

Nicolaides, 41, originally pleaded not guilty when he appeared before the court on 21 November. Four requests for conditional release had been rejected since his arrest on 31 August 2008.

The charge concerns just one short passage in his novel “Verisimilitude,” which was self-published in 2005 with a print-run of only 50 copies. His Australian lawyer, Mark Dean, said the case involved only three sentences in the 226-page book and no one was mentioned by name. Furthermore, the charge was based on the Thai translation, not the original English. “The reference to the monarchy is not even central to the book’s plot,” Dean added.

Nicolaides’ brother told Reporters Without Borders the family was “extremely distressed” by the outcome of the trial. They would do “everything they can to ensure that Harry remains strong, healthy and positive in the circumstances,” he said. Nicolaides now plans to request a royal pardon.

Political science professor Giles Ungphakorn meanwhile faces a lese majeste charge tomorrow in connection with his book “A Coup for the Rich,” which can be downloaded at no cost from his blog, http://www.wdpress.blog.co.uk. Ungphakorn yesterday launched a petition calling for free expression in Thailand and the abolition of the crime of lese majeste.

The police announced on 16 January that access to another 1,500 websites is being blocked because of content insulting to the monarchy. According to official sources, 3,800 sites have been blocked for this reason since 6 January and 400 are currently being investigated.

Internet user Suwicha Thakhor was arrested on 13 January after the police discovered that insulting comments about the king and his aides came from his computer. His request for conditional release was turned down three days later. Justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on 15 January that the principle of free expression sometimes had to be compromised for the same of “national security.”

Australian gaoled for lese majeste-Nation
21-01-09
[FACT comments: Our latest Justice Minister is obviously a heavy Web surfer! Wish we had his dedication.]

Australian jailed for lese majeste charge
The Nation, Agencies: January 20, 2009

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/20/national/national_30093636.php

The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced an Australian writer to three years in jail after finding him guilty on a charge of lese majeste.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, pleaded guilty to the charge which relates to a passage in a novel titled “Verisimilitude” which he published in 2005.

“He was found guilty under criminal law article 112 and the court has sentenced him to six years, but due to his confession, which is beneficial to the case, the sentence is reduced to three years,” a judge told the court.

“He has written a book that slandered the King, the Crown Prince and Thailand and the Monarchy,” the judge added.

Article 112 refers to lese majeste laws protecting the monarchy from insult, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Nicolaides, who worked as a university lecturer in Chiang Rai between 2003 and 2005, was detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport departure lounge on August 31 on an arrest warrant issued two-and-a-half years earlier. He was about to board a flight home, apparently unaware of the arrest warrant issued in connection with his novel, according to rights groups. He was indicted in November and denied bail.

Shackled at the ankles and handcuffed, Nicolaides said, “I would like to apologise. This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream,.” He said he had “unqualified respect for the King of Thailand” and had not intended to insult him.

Talking to reporters earlier,Nicolaides described the time since he was arrested as an “Alice in Wonderland” experience. He said he was hoping to wake up from a dream and find it all gone. He was visibly emotional as he spoke, saying he wanted to make amends for his crime.

His lawyer said he would seek a royal pardon for the sentence, the latest in a series of penalties under lese majeste laws against insulting the monarchy. Nicolaides has the right to appeal within 30 days.

In a related development, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga urged concerned agencies urgently take action against websites allegedly critical of the Thai monarchy.

“As far as I know there are almost 10,000 sites maybe deemed of offending the monarchy but only 2,000 sites were just closed by the ICT (Information and Communications Technology Ministry),” he said.

Aussie author gets six years for lese majeste-Bangkok Post
21-01-09
Aussie author gets three-year jail sentence for lese majeste
Bangkok Post & Agencies: January 20, 2009

https://mail.google.com/mail/?zx=96rzusz8rp4h&shva=1#inbox/11ef3f28cb702a1f

An Australian author and former university lecturer has begun serving a three-year prison sentence after being convicted yesterday of lese majeste in a novel written more than three years ago.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, pleaded guilty to the lese majeste charge in the Criminal Court based on a passage in his book Verisimilitude published in 2005, with only a handful of copies sold.

“He has written a book that slandered the King, the Crown Prince of Thailand and the monarchy,” the judge said.

The court initially gave him a sentence of six years in jail, but commuted the sentence by half to three years after he confessed. He presented the court with written testimony.

Public prosecutors accused Nicolaides of publishing and distributing a book with content deemed offensive to the royal family. The offences were committed in Chiang Rai and Bangkok’s Ratchathewi district.

“He was found guilty under article 112 of the Criminal Law,” the judge said.

Before the hearing, Nicolaides told reporters in a tearful voice: “I was aware there were obscure laws [about the monarchy] but I didn’t think they would apply to me.

“I would like to apologise. This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream.” Nicolaides said he had “unqualified respect for the King of Thailand” and had not intended to insult him.

He broke into tears upon hearing the verdict and emerging from the court to meet friends who arrived at the court to give him moral support.

A gaunt-looking Nicolaides - who has been in custody for nearly five months - told reporters as he left the court he felt “dreadful”, adding: “I wish my family the best.”

Nicolaides has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

His lawyer and relatives said he would seek a royal pardon, with Nicolaides’s brother, Forde, describing the family as devastated.

“It is not Harry’s intention to appeal, but he is considering a pardon application, which can occur through a mechanism directly with the palace,” Forde Nicolaides told the Australian Associated Press from Melbourne.

“It’s quite devastating for us. The whole case has been a massive emotional ordeal that has consumed our entire family. It’s beyond belief.”

The Melbourne-based Australian entered Thailand in 2003 and was a lecturer in social psychology at the Prince of Songkla University before moving on to teach tourism and hotel management at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai.

He was detained at Suvarnabhumi airport on Aug 31, 2008 on an arrest warrant issued two and a half years earlier. He was later handed over to police. No bail was granted for his release since his arrest.


Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation