January 28, 2009

Abhisit Vejjajiva
Prime Minister
The Secretariat of the Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Government House
Pitsanulok Road
Dusit, Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 280 0858

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

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

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the sentence imposed on Australian writer Harry Nicolaides.

According to our information, Harry Nicolaides, age 41, was arrested at the Bangkok airport while boarding a plane to Australia on August 31, 2008 on charges of “lèse-majesté.” On January 19, 2009, Mr. Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to the charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. The sentence was reduced from a six-year term after his confession, and relates to a passage in Mr. Nicolaides’s novel Verisimilitude which is considered to be insulting to the Thai king’s eldest son. However, only three lines of the 300-page book refer to the crown prince, and he is not even mentioned by name.

PEN is seriously concerned that Harry Nicolaides is among a growing number of people to be prosecuted under “lèse-majesté” legislation, which we consider to be in breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a signatory. We therefore demand his immediate and unconditional release, and call on authorities to decriminalize the offense of “lèse-majesté,” which has been used to stifle legitimate discussions of the monarchy and violate the right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Mr. Krit Garnjana- Goonchorn
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the U.S.
1024 Wisconsin Ave
N.W. Washington D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 944-3611

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