September 3, 2008 / 9:01 AM / 11 years ago

Australian arrested in Thailand for lese-majeste

BANGKOK (Reuters) - An Australian writer has been arrested in Thailand and faces a lese-majeste charge for publishing a novel deemed defamatory to the country’s royal family, police and the Australian embassy said on Wednesday.

An embassy official identified the man as a 41-year-old from Melbourne and police named him as Harry Nicolaides, who was unaware there was an arrest warrant out for him when he tried to fly out from Bangkok to Australia on Sunday.

“An arrest warrant was issued in March for a book he wrote in 2005 deemed defamatory to the crown prince,” Police Lieutenant-Colonel Boonlert Kalayanamit told Reuters.

He has been charged with lese-majeste, a crime that can carry a 15-year jail sentence in Thailand, and was being held at a remand prison pending further interviews, Boonlert said.

Nicolaides, a regular visitor to Thailand and briefly a resident, when he taught English and wrote for Australian newspapers, had not been granted bail, police said.

Police identified the novel in question as “Verisimilitude”, described in publicity dated June 2005 on the website as a “trenchant commentary on the political and social life of contemporary Thailand”.

Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Alan Raybould

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