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The price for insulting Thailand’s king
Why an Australian author was sentenced to three years in prison
 

Anyone “vexed by rank injustice and senseless confinement” should be interested in the case of Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, said Michael Miner in the Chicago Reader. The 41-year-old teacher and author was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison in Thailand—where he was living—for a passage of his 2005 book, Verisimilitude, which was found by the court to be insulting to the Thai monarchy. If Nicolaides hadn’t pleaded guilty, his sentence would have been doubled—pretty harsh.

The real kicker, said Andrew Buncombe in The Independent, is that hardly any Thais even read the passage in question, which suggested there was sexual intrigue going on within the royal family. Only seven copies of Nicolaides’ self-published novel were sold. But the sentence isn’t surprising: The law has been increasingly “used as a tool to silence critics of the royal family against the backdrop of Thailand's recent political turmoil.”

Which is why Nicolaides shouldn’t have taken such a chance in his book, said Richard Barrow in Thai Blogs. It’s “hard to believe that a teacher and a writer could know so little about the culture of Thailand.” It’s common knowledge that you “do not insult the monarchy”—and “it doesn't matter if you are Thai or not.”

 

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