Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Questions without Notice
Mr Harry Nicolaides
My question is to the Special Minister of State, representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the arrest and incarceration in Thailand of the Australian citizen, journalist and author Harry Nicolaides, who was arrested in Bangkok while travelling to Australia to visit his family on Sunday, 31 August 2008. Mr Nicolaides faces charges of lese-majesty, or offences against the crown, for comments made in his fictional novel Verisimilitude. Mr Nicolaides is a respected contributor to the Melbourne based Greek language newspaper Neos Kosmos.
According to his Australian lawyer, Mark Dean SC, Mr Nicolaides is effectively a political prisoner. He faces terrible conditions in his Thai jail, where he shares a cell with up to 50 prisoners many of whom suffer from communicable diseases, including tuberculosis. He has witnessed fellow prisoners dying in his cell from their illnesses. Mr Nicolaides’s family and counsel advise me that his mental and physical condition is rapidly deteriorating. Will the minister provide details as to what steps the Australian government has undertaken to ensure Mr Nicolaides’s immediate return to Australia?