International PEN protests the three-year prison sentence handed down to Australian writer Harry Nicolaides for “lèse-majesté” (insulting the monarchy) in his 2005 novel Verisimilitude. PEN demands the immediate and unconditional release of Harry Nicolaides, as it considers his sentence 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 signatory. PEN also calls on the Thai authorities to decriminalize the offence of “lèse-majesté,” which is apparently being used to stifle legitimate discussion of the monarchy.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Harry Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in prison by a court in Bangkok on January 19, 2009, after pleading guilty to "lèse-majesté," under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.  He was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but due to his confession the term was reduced.

Harry Nicolaides, aged 41, was arrested at the Bangkok airport when he was about to board his plane to Australia on August 31, 2008. The sentenced is related to a passage in Nicolaides’ novel Verisimilitude 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.

"Lèse-majesté" laws in Thailand provide a prison sentence of three to fifteen years for defaming the king, the queen or the heir to the throne. Nicolaides is among a growing number of people to be prosecuted under this legislation, including Ji Ungpakorn, a political scientist and professor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, who was charged by the police with "lèse-majesté" on January 20, 2009. The Public Prosecutor will make the final decision as to whether to bring Ji Ungpakorn to trial. The charges are linked to a book Ji Ungpakorn published in 2007 entitled A Coup for the Rich, about the military coup of 2006 in Thailand. Ji Ungpakorn has called for the abolition of "lèse-majesté" laws and has launched an online petition.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the sentence imposed on Australian 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;
  • Requesting the Thai government decriminalize "lèse-majesté" legislation, which appears to stifle legitimate discussion of the monarchy and violate the right to freedom of expression.

Send Your Letter To

Prime Minister
Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva
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

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Thailand in your country if possible.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after February, 2009: ftw[at]