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Royal pardon for jailed translator

An American sentenced to two and a half years in a Thai prison for translating a banned biography about the country's king and posting the content online has been freed by a royal pardon, the US Embassy said.

Joe Gordon was convicted in December for translating excerpts of the book The King Never Smiles from English into Thai.

The punishment was a high-profile example of the severe sentences meted out for defaming Thailand's royal family, an issue that has raised concern about freedom of expression in the south-east Asian kingdom.

No reason was given for the pardon, but US officials have pressed Thai authorities to release the Thai-born American since he was first detained in May 2011.

Mr Gordon was freed from Bangkok's Remand prison late on Tuesday, US Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said.

"We are pleased that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej granted Joe Gordon a royal pardon, which allowed him to be released from prison," Mr Braunohler said.

"We urge Thai authorities on a regular basis, both privately and publicly, in Bangkok and in Washington, to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations."

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