Thailand frees Australian author

Feb. 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM

MELBOURNE, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- An Australian author freed from more than five months in a Thai jail for insulting Thailand's royalty says Canberra did a good job in securing his release.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, had been sentenced to more than three years in jail for insulting a Thai crown prince in a book, but was granted a royal pardon Thursday. After a sharing a tearful greeting with his family upon his arrival in Melbourne Saturday, he thanked the Australian government for helping arrange his pardon, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"I was happy with the Australian government's efforts, they had constraints that they had to work within and the Australian embassy did a marvelous job," Nicolaides told reporters.

Although he was happy to be home, Nicolaides said he is angry about his ordeal, adding, "I am angry, I am frustrated, I am perplexed."

His welcome home held some sadness, however, when he discovered that his mother, Despina, suffered a stroke two weeks ago, the Sunday Herald Sun reported.

"I have been crying for eight hours," Nicolaides said. "I learned only a few minutes before my flight that my mother had a stroke."

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