UK academic allowed into Thailand after airport ordeal

UK academic allowed into Thailand after airport ordeal

British academic Wyn Ellis was freed on Monday night after several days in detention at Suvarnabhumi Airport once his name was removed from an Immigration Department blacklist.

Ellis was declared persona non grata in 2009 for supposed national security reasons at the request of Supachai Lorlowhakarn, then head of the National Innovation Agency (NIA), who was fighting Ellis in court over a plagiarism scandal, which the NIA chief later lost.

Ellis, a long-time resident of Thailand who holds both British and Thai passports, told The Nation via phone yesterday he was grateful to the NIA for sending a letter requesting his name be withdrawn from the list banning him entry to Thailand.

"I thank the NIA's new director Pun-Arj Chairatana for facilitating my release by immediately issuing the letter to the Immigration Bureau," he said. "I am also grateful to Thailand's Immigration Bureau chief and staff for their quick action in resolving this matter.

"I am delighted to be able to return to Thailand, where I have lived for more than 30 years.

"I have no issue with the NIA, which has an important mandate for national development. However, it would be nice to have an apology for the harm and reputational damage inflicted on me by the previous director under the NIA's name."

He had not thought about suing anyone - he was just happy to get on with his life and resume working here.

Asaya Siriaotharn, public relations manager for the NIA, told The Nation the agency had actually sent a letter to Immigration Police on Friday to explain that the recommendation six years ago for Ellis to be blacklisted should be revoked.

"These days Ellis and the NIA have cleared things up. There's no issue left," she said.

On Facebook, Ellis said he was handed back his UK passport and escorted out of the airport by immigration officers at 9.30pm on Monday night. He also noted how professional, sympathetic and helpful immigration staff had been throughout.

"I am now apparently persona grata," he added.

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