Writer jailed for Thai 'insult'
Harry Nicolaides' book, by his own admission, only sold seven copies
Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in jail for insulting the monarchy.
Bangkok's Criminal Court initially sentenced him for six years but reduced the term because he had pleaded guilty.
Nicolaides, who was working as a teacher in Thailand, was arrested as he was leaving the country last August.
The charge relates to a paragraph in a novel he wrote four years ago, 'Verisimilitude', which referred to an un-named Thai Crown Prince.
Shackled in leg irons, and wearing the orange pyjamas which are standard issue in Thai prisons, a tearful Harry Nicolaides told reporters before the verdict that he felt like he was in a bad dream.
An "Alice in Wonderland experience", he called it.
In court he pleaded guilty, although he has always insisted he never intended any offence in the brief passage of his novel that referred to the scandalous lifestyle of an un-named Crown Prince.
"He has written a book that slandered the king, the crown prince and Thailand and the monarchy," a judge told the court.
By his own account the book, written four years ago, only sold seven copies.
The only one known to exist now sits on the shelf of the Thai National Library, still freely available to the public.
According to the BBC's correspondent in Bangkok, Jonathan Head, it is not clear why the Thai authorities have decided to deal so severely with Nicolaides.
He has been denied bail four times, and said he had endured "unspeakable suffering" in the five months since his arrest.
It is rare for foreigners to be prosecuted under the draconian lese majeste law, although the number of Thais who have been charged has risen sharply over the past year, as the military has ordered better protection of the monarchy's image.
Our correspondent says that quiet criticism of the monarchy has increased, as some members of the royal family have appeared to take sides in the political conflicts that have shaken the country in recent months.
The military is also anxious about how it manages the succession to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has been on the throne for 62 years and enjoys almost god-like veneration among the public.
Click to view image: 'Harry Nicolaides'
Click to view image: 'Highly Revered King Bhumibol'
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