Lese-majeste convict Surachai Danwattananusorn (aka Surachai Saedan) has been granted a royal pardon and was released from prison on Oct. 4 after serving three years. Surachai was also a leader of a group called Red Siam, formed in the aftermath of the military coup of 2006 that ousted elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Surachai was found guilty of offending the monarchy in a series of speeches he gave at the red-shirt protests from 2008 to 2011 and was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison. Currently Thailand, where most Thais claim to have love and respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has the most severe punishment for lese-majeste in the world.
A large number of red-shirt supporters and rights activists showed up at Bangkok's Remand Prison to welcome the freedom of Surachai. But he is not the last prisoner charged with lese-majeste. Several of them have still been detained until they admit their guilt in insulting the monarchy; then a royal pardon could be considered.