Aussie Writer Gets 3 Years for Thai Insult

Self-published book that sold 7 copies dissed the monarchy
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 19, 2009 9:01 AM CST
Australian writer Harry Nicolaides looks out from a criminal court cell while waiting to hear charges in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, Jan. 19, 2009.    (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
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(Newser) – An Australian writer has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for insulting Thailand’s monarchy in one passage of a self-published book, the BBC reports. Tough “lese-majeste” laws shield Thailand’s monarchy from criticism and led to Harry Nicolaides’ arrest as he was leaving the country. He pleaded guilty to the insult charge, saying he hadn’t known it was illegal.

Only seven copies of the volume sold, one of which is on display in the Thai National Library. A short passage mentions a crown prince, who isn’t named. “Truth is stranger than fiction,” Nicolaides said. “This has to be a bad dream.” There is hope for him, however: He could receive a pardon from the king, as did a Swiss man in 2007 who defaced the king’s portrait and landed a 10-year sentence.