Writer Detained for Insulting the Monarchy
International PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, who is charged with “lèse-majesté”or “insulting the monarchy” for his 2005 novel Verisimilitude. PEN considers his detention to be in violation 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 signatory. PEN therefore calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and for the charge to be dropped.
According to PEN’s information, Harry Nicolaides, aged 41, 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 15 years’ imprisonment. The charge stems from a passage in Nicolaides’ novelVerisimilitude which is considered to be insulting to the Thai king’s eldest son. It is said that in the 300-page book only three lines refer to the crown prince, and that he is not even mentioned by name. Harry Nicolaides 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, Nicolaides requested to be released on bail, but his request was denied. It is said that only 50 copies of the book were ever printed, of which only seven were sold.
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.
Write A Letter
- 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 signatory.
Send Your Letter To
The Secretariat of the Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister
Dusit, Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 280 0858
Minister of Justice
Office of the Minister
Ministry of Justice
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pak Kred, Nonthaburi 11120
Fax: +66 2 502 6734
Minister of Interior
Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana
Minister of Interior
Office of the Secretary to the Minister
Ministry of Interior
Pra Nakorn, Bangkok 10200
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Thailand in your country.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after October 15, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org