Australian author who insulted Thai royal family pardoned

CNN: “Author jailed for insulting Thai king freed

An Australian author imprisoned last month for insulting the king and crown prince of Thailand was on his way home Saturday after receiving a pardon from the king.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, was arrested last August over his 2005 book titled “Verisimilitude.”

The book includes a paragraph about the king and crown prince that authorities deemed a violation of a law that makes it illegal to defame, insult or threaten the crown. CNN has chosen not to repeat the language because it could result in CNN staff being prosecuted in Thailand.

Mark Dean, a lawyer for Nicolaides, said he was released Friday and taken to the Australian embassy in Bangkok, where he stayed until leaving for Australia at about midnight.

“He is obviously very relieved and grateful that the pardon was granted,” Dean said.

Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty last month. He faced a term of up to six years before the plea. Video Watch shackled Nicolaides at court »

His lawyers then requested the pardon. King Bhumibol Adulydej had pardoned foreigners in similar cases in the past.

BBC: (with video) “Thailand frees Australian writer

Harry Nicolaides, an Australian writer jailed in Thailand for defaming its monarch, has returned home after being pardoned by the king and set free.

Mr Nicolaides, 41, had been sentenced to three years imprisonment in January.

The charges arose from a passage in a largely unknown novel he wrote in 2005, of which only seven of 50 copies printed were ever sold.

Mr Nicolaides was met by his family in Melbourne. He would next see his mother in hospital, his father told reporters.

Speaking at the airport in Melbourne, Mr Nicolaides thanked the Australian people for their support, the Associated Press news agency reports.

He told reporters he had been crying for eight hours, having only learnt moments before his flight that his mother had suffered a stroke while he was imprisoned.

“A few hours before that I was informed I had a royal pardon… A few hours before that I was climbing out of a sewerage tank that I fell into in the prison,” AP quotes him as saying.

ABC (with a video on the right side of the page): “Tearful reunion as Nicolaides returns to Melbourne

An Australian author who has spent more than five months in a Thai jail has made an emotional return to Melbourne.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, was arrested last August and was sentenced to three years’ jail last month for insulting the Thai monarchy in his 2005 book, Verisimilitude.

Mr Nicolaides was deported from Thailand at midnight and arrived in Melbourne this afternoon.

He says he is in shock.

“[I am] bewildered and dazed, nauseous,” he said.

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