Thailand: Australian writer detained

English PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, who has been charged with ‘lèse-majesté’ (insulting the monarchy) for his novel Verisimilitude.

According to our information, Harry Nicolaides, was arrested at Bangkok airport when he was about to board his plane to Australia on 31 August 2008. He was charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code with ‘lèse-majesté’ (insulting the monarchy), and faces a sentence of between three and fifteen years of imprisonment. The charge stems from a passage in Nicolaides’ 2005 novel Verisimilitude, which is considered to be insulting to the Thai king’s eldest son. However, it has been reported that in the 300-page book, there are only three lines which refer to the crown prince, and that he is not mentioned by name. Furthermore, it is said that only fifty copies of the book were ever printed, of which just seven were sold.

Harry Nicolaides has issued a public apology from his prison cell, and stated that he would like to have the chance to apologise to the Royal Family and explain. On 2 September, Nicolaides requested to be released on bail, but his request was denied. PEN considers his detention to be in breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and to which Thailand is a state Party. We are calling for his immediate and unconditional release, and for the charge to be dropped.

Harry Nicolaides first visited Thailand five years ago, and made his living there as a lecturer in hospitality and tourism at a university in Chiang Rai, writing occasionally for some media outlets.

Please send appeals:

– Expressing serious concern about the detention and charge against writer Harry Nicolaides;
– Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a state party.

Send your appeals to:

Prime Minister
Samak Sundaravej
The Secretariat of the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister
Government House
Pitsanulok Road
Dusit, Bangkok 10300
Fax: 66 2 280 0858
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Minister of Justice
Sompong Amornwiwat
Office of the Minister
Ministry of Justice
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pak Kred, Nonthaburi 11120
Fax: 66 2 502 6734
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Interior
Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana
Minister of Interior
Office of the Secretary to the Minister
Ministry of Interior
Assadang Road
Pra Nakorn, Bangkok 10200
Fax: 66 2 226 4371
Salutation: Dear Minister

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Thailand in the United Kingdom:

His Excellency Mr Kitti Wasinindh
Royal Thai Embassy
29 – 30 Queen s Gate
London, SW7 5JB
Fax: 020 7823 9695

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