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Archbishop to work for Australian Cypriot's release.

Byline: Alexia Saoulli

ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos II said yesterday he would intervene on behalf of the Australian Cypriot who was jailed in Thailand for three years for insulting the country's monarchy.

Chrysostomos said he would appeal to the Australian government to mediate on Harris Nicolaides' behalf, who also happened to be a distant relative of his.

The 41-year-old was imprisoned after he pleaded guilty to lE se-majestE[umlaut] charges. He was prosecuted for slandering the Thai royal family in his 2005 self-published novel, Verisimilitude.

Chrysostomos said he would do whatever he could to see Nicolaides was released.

The cleric said he would bring the issue up at his meeting with UN Special Envoy Alexander Downer, who was an Australian.

The Archbishop said he would meet Downer following his return from Athens and ask him to appeal to Thailand's Prime Minister on the writer's behalf as he knew them to be on "friendly" terms.

"One must be careful not to be offensive when they write something. Nicolaides is also in part to blame," Chrysostomos said.

The Cyprus Journalists Union is also working on the 41-year-old's behalf. Last week the Union requested a meeting with Australian High Commissioner Evan Williams to discuss stepping up efforts to free the Australian Cypriot.

Williams told the Union the Australian government had already made several attempts to push for a pardon and would continue to do so.

Nicolaides' lawyers also began the pardon process after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile the latest edition of The Economist was banned from Thailand for containing an article about Nicolaides.

The 41-year-old was jailed 10 days ago after a brief passage in a novel he wrote offended the monarchy. The passage referred to an unnamed crown prince. Only seven copies of the 50 printed were ever sold.

Nicolaides admitted the charge of insulting the royal family, but said he was unaware he was committing an offence.

Thailand's laws against lE se-majestE[umlaut] are among the strictest in the world.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jan 28, 2009
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