September 17, 2008

Samak Sundaravej

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 to 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 express our serious concern regarding the detention of Australian writer Harry Nicolaides.

According to our information, Mr. Nicolaides was arrested at the Bangkok Airport as he was about to board his plane to Australia on August 31, 2008. He was charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code with “lèse-majesté,” or “insulting the monarchy,” and faces a sentence of between three and fifteen years’ imprisonment. The charge stems from a passage in Nicolaides’ novel Verisimilitude which could be considered to be insulting to crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn. It is our understanding that in the 300-page book only three lines refer to the crown prince, and that he is not even mentioned by name. Furthermore, only 50 copies of the book were ever printed, of which only seven were sold.

Harry Nicolaides reportedly issued a public apology from his prison cell and stated that he would like to have the chance to apologize and explain to the Royal Family. On September 2, he requested to be released on bail, but his request was denied.

PEN American Center believes the detention and charges against Harry Nicolaides to be in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a signatory. We therefore respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release.

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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