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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Harry Nicolaides’ pardon saw a welcoming party (see photos from ABC’s news coverage below) at Melbourne airport including father Socrates and other family members. Nicolaides served five and a half months of a three year sentence in a murderously dirty and inhuman Bangkok prison.

Socrates Nicolaides hugged his son on camera before the 41 year old broke down in tears as he remembered the horror of his time behind bars. He received anonymous postcards, letters, gifts of food and medicines while in jail and thanked the Australians who sent them. He noted the "quintessential, iconic language that only Australians can make".

Harry plans to return to Thailand and to write an account of his ordeal. "Do you plan to write a book now?" asked a journalist. "I certainly will," said Harry. "Truth is stranger than fiction."

The pardon was mooted a week ago following front page coverage in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The release comes four days after the announcement of a plan to forward a request for a pardon to the royal palace. King Bumiphol Adulyadej finalised the pardon in quick time.

On Facebook Voula Demosthenous distributed a message at 6pm from Harry’s brother Forde to those who had joined a support group. With the subject line ‘Harry Is Free!!!!!!!!’, Forde wrote that “The Nicolaides family is grateful to his Majesty the King for the decision he has made and to the relevant Thai authorities who dealt with the pardon application in an expeditious manner.”

Harry’s brother also thanked “everyone who has supported the family’s efforts” “and in assisting with encouraging the Australian government to take affirmative action to secure Harry’s release”.

In the SMH’s 4.15pm story today, Harry was reported thanking “the Australian people for their support and the media for helping to get him released”. At the airport Harry thanked the media who had been "dauntless and courageous" and had kept up the pressure on the government to get the release approved. "We have rare privileges in this country," he said.






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