NAKHON SI THAMMARAT - Activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, or "Surachai Sae Dan", says red-shirt supporters helped him get through his jail term for lese majeste without too much hardship.
Surachai: Warders were intimidated
The activist, 72, spent two years and seven months spent behind bars in Bangkok before being granted a royal pardon.
He was released from jail on Oct 4 and has since returned to his home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where he has now opened up about his jail experience.
Mr Surachai said he did not feel lonely or distressed at Bangkok Remand Prison. "Red shirts visited me almost every day," said the veteran activist.
In 2010, the Criminal Court found Mr Surachai breached Section 112 of the Criminal Code in a series of speeches which the judges found were offensive to the monarch. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail.
However, he was later granted a royal pardon after serving two years and seven months.
Mr Surachai said life in prison for him, where he was widely known among the red shirts, was not too bad. The red shirts wield influence these days, and even some wardens keep away from them. Red-shirt inmates regarded him as a "big brother" and took care of him.
Red-shirt detainees need not fear rough treatment behind bars, he said. Being a politically powerful group, the red shirts were "intimidating" for the authorities.
Red shirts had donated 140,000 baht to him while he was in jail. He said he and his family were most grateful to His Majesty the King for granting him the pardon.
Mr Surachai's convictions involved speeches at Sanam Luang in Bangkok in 2009, Doi Sa Ket in Chiang Mai, the Imperial Department Store in Lat Phrao and a red-shirt rally in Udon Thani in 2010, and in Wang Thong Lang district of Bangkok in 2011.