Australian jailed for insulting Thai monarchy may receive royal pardon

Harry Nicolaides, an Australian writer sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the Thai monarchy in a book, has been recommended for a royal pardon.

An Australian writer who was sentenced to three years in a Thai prison for insulting the monarchy in a book has been recommended for a royal pardon, according to the Thai Corrections Department.

Harry Nicolaides was sentenced Jan. 19 by a Thai court because of his 2005 novel Verisimilitude. Authorities allege one passage insulted King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the crown prince.

Nicolaides was living in Thailand at the time of his arrest last August. The Australian government has been lobbying for his release since his arrest.

He described his time in prison as "torture" and "a bad dream" and has apologized for what he wrote, saying he has "unqualified respect" for the king, a revered monarch in his country.

Corrections officials said Monday a recommendation for Nicolaides to receive a royal pardon is under consideration, supported by the pardons division of the Corrections Department.

The one-month limit for Nicolaides's lawyers to appeal his jail sentence is due to lapse this week.

Once passed, this would clear the way for the pardon to be presented to the justice minister and then to the royal palace.

Corrections officials said notification of the pardon could take place within a month.

Under Thai law, insults against the monarchy garner penalties of three to 15 years behind bars.