‘Death threats’ in Thailand for UK whistleblower

Wyn Ellis, who made a plagiarism claim against an official, has received menacing calls

Source: YouTube

Caught on camera: image of an attack on Wyn Ellis’ car by unknown assailants

A British scientist who accused a Thai government official of plagiarism has reported receiving death and kidnapping threats.

Wyn Ellis, a consultant with the United Nations Environmental Programme who has lived and worked in Thailand for 28 years, has claimed that beginning on 8 August he was subjected to 250 calls from two unknown men over four days.

The agricultural consultant told Times Higher Education that in the first call a man said he was waiting outside Dr Ellis’ home to kidnap him and his wife and to kill them both.

“He said ‘You know what you’ve done – you’ve caused a lot of trouble and you know what you’ve got to do to stop it’, but he would not give details,” Dr Ellis said.

The researcher, who said he was being protected by a Thai police unit, has since filed reports with a local police station and the Thai police Crime Suppression Division.

Dr Ellis was the original source of allegations that Supachai Lorlowhakarn, director of Thailand’s National Innovation Agency, plagiarised material that appeared in his 2008 PhD thesis.

Mr Lorlowhakarn’s doctorate was rescinded by Chulalongkorn University last year after an earlier investigation by the institution concluded that 80 per cent of Mr Lorlowhakarn’s thesis had been plagiarised from various sources, including a UN report co-authored by Dr Ellis.

Dr Ellis said that over the past five years he had been subject to several civil and criminal libel lawsuits and police complaint actions filed by Mr Lorlowhakarn and public prosecutors. To date, all the legal actions have been withdrawn or dismissed, or Dr Ellis has been found not guilty. However, four remain subject to appeal, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Lorlowhakarn, who remains in post at the agency, was last year found guilty of criminal forgery, a ruling he is appealing against.

Dr Ellis told THE that the death threats were the latest escalation in years of surveillance and harassment that had included an investigation of his tax affairs and raids of his home by immigration officials. He was also bombarded with rocks by motorcycle-riding assailants as he drove to a court hearing in 2011, an incident captured by CCTV cameras.

There is no evidence to connect Mr Lorlowhakarn with any of the threats or attacks.

Given his success to date in court cases, and having recently obtained his own PhD, Dr Ellis said that life should now be good.

“But for some reason, after continuing surveillance of my home over the past few months, things have taken a sinister turn,” he said.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Man measuring bar graphs with tape measure

An Elsevier analysis explores the viability of a ‘smarter and cheaper’ model

  • David Willetts

The former universities minister discusses the reforms that reshaped higher education and his first steps into academia

  • Man holding a box filled with work-related items

Refusal by John Allen to obey instruction from manager at Queen Mary University of London led to his sacking, tribunal rules

  • A black and white crowd scene with a few people highlighted

What are the key issues local union branches are dealing with, and how do they manage relationships with institutions in what many activists argue is an increasingly confrontational environment?

  • Muslim woman at graduation ceremony, Barbican, London

Sector called on to embrace faith-related concerns in intellectual debates