British scientist released after detention in Thailand

Wyn Ellis appears to have been on immigration blacklist after exposing Thai official’s plagiarism

September 8, 2015
Bangkok skyline
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A British scientist has been released following a five-day detention at Bangkok Airport that appeared to be linked to his exposure of a Thai official’s academic plagiarism.

Wyn Ellis, a consultant for the United Nations Environmental Programme, said on Twitter last night that his ordeal was over and he was once again a “persona grata” in Thailand. 

As previously reported by Times Higher Education, Dr Ellis was the original source of allegations that Supachai Lorlowhakarn, former director of Thailand’s National Innovation Agency, plagiarised material that appeared in his 2008 PhD thesis, including from a UN report co-authored by Dr Ellis.

Mr Lorlowhakarn responded with a series of civil and criminal libel lawsuits, but these either failed or were settled out of court.

In 2012, Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University rescinded Mr Lorlowhakarn’s doctorate after an investigation found that it had been plagiarised and he was eventually sacked by the NIA.

But despite this victory, the battle has come back to haunt Dr Ellis. According to Time magazine, he was detained last week after misplacing his Thai passport and using his British one instead – which was still on an immigration blacklist, apparently due to his dispute with Mr Lorlowhakarn.

A photo tweeted on Sunday by Dr Ellis shows him in a cell alongside 12 other detainees.

His most recent tweets read: “Pleased to report that I am now out of custody and back in my in my home in Bangkok Yessss!!

“OUT!!! So I am ‘persona grata’ again in THA. Thanks to Thai govt for removing me from the Immig Blacklist, and thanks also to all supporters.”

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