FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. In 2009, I spent a hot December day in the Land of Smiles, in jail. Initially, this seemed mildly amusing and novel—Thai jail, the brown jumpsuits, the rattle of shackles. I assumed I’d be there five minutes.
I passed the rest of the day (not smiling!) in alternating states of resignation, panic, and fury, slouched against the wall with a ration of pork skin on rice, or at peak agitation, with my face pressed between the cell bars for fresh air and a glimpse of my lawyer, Ronnachai, who was supposed to be bailing me out.
I was charged with criminal defamation, a consequence of reporting in the Bangkok Postthat a Thai official had been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation on organic asparagus.