But Thailand was hard to shake. I followed the news there as closely as I could. I was still in touch with a friend I had in the Thai government—I had studiously avoided discussing my case with him and was never sure what he knew about how I left Thailand—and met him one afternoon when he came to New York last October to promote the Princess’ “Enhancing the Lives of Female Inmates” initiative at the UN. He took me to a Borders nearby to introduce me to the then-prime minister and members of the Justice Ministry, who were purchasing reading material for the flight back and who, as far as I could tell, had no knowledge of my story. The prime minister and I exchanged some pleasantries as he looked over a display of Eat, Pray, Love. They offered me a ride uptown in the motorcade. I thanked them and took the subway.
November came and went. The charges were dismissed against Ellis, but not against me since I wasn’t there—an outcome that inevitably, and unhelpfully, caused me to question my decisions. Just last month, I finally paid the Post the bail money they said I owed them. In return, they paid me what remained in my investment fund. The financial officer sent news of the transfer with kind words: “You will stay in our memories and wish you good luck, happiness and success.”
For a moment, it was almost enough to make me forgive and forget how the Post had handled my case.
But then, Pattnapong sent his own account of what happened and why. Not surprisingly, it differs significantly from mine. He says that one of the three editors at the paper had warned against publishing my story—if this is true, I was never informed; he says Supachai had warned me not to publish the story—that is true, but editors knew it and besides, it is hardly grounds for not publishing a story that is accurate and thorough; he says Ellis was not telling me the truth about his motives—having investigated this matter more deeply than Pattnapong, I believe my reporting to be fair and factual; he says he consulted with me before having the case against him dropped—not true—and that I was difficult and demanded the case be dropped against me despite the assurances that Supachai would, in fact, drop the charges against me once I appeared in court. I don’t see how I could have reasonably trusted these assurances.
Yet what is most infuriating is that nothing has changed, other than I now sit across the ocean from Thailand, unable to return. Supachai is still a “doctor” and still has his job. Pattnapong and the Post still pretend to stand by their reporters. Thailand’s draconian defamation laws, and a justice system that is routinely manipulated by people of power and influence, remains intact, making the pursuit of honest journalism there extremely difficult if not impossible. I feel only lucky, in that I had the luxury Thai journalists do not—I had somewhere to run.