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Australian author Harry Nicolaides receives royal pardon on lese majeste conviction, released from Thai prison

(SEAPA/IFEX) - Australian author Harry Nicolaides, who imprisoned in Thailand on lese majeste charges, was granted a royal pardon on 19 February 2009, media reports said.

"The Nation" online quoted the 41-year-old author's lawyer as saying that Nicolaides boarded a flight to Australia and was expected to arrive in Melbourne on 21 February.

Nicolaides, who was arrested in August 2008, was sentenced to three years in prison in January 2009 for defaming the crown prince in his self-published book, "Verisimilitude."

"The Australian and Thai governments have been working very closely together on the resolution of Harry's case," lawyer Mark Dean said. "ABC News" online quoted the lawyer as saying, "The various steps that had to be taken in Thailand have been expedited in this case, resulting in the King being able to grant the pardon last Thursday."

Lese majeste, which pertains to insult, defamation or threat to the monarchy, is a criminal offense in Thailand, punishable with a prison term of up to 15 years.

Updates the Nicolaides case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99972

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