By The Nation
The chairman of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) was released at 7.10am after serving a one-year jail term for defaming then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Red-shirt leaders at the welcome included UDD secretary-general Nattawut Saikaur, chief UDD advisor Thida Tojirakarn and Korkaew Pikulthong.
Jatuporn stepped outside the prison’s gate to the cheers and applause of his supporters. Their representatives gave him red roses and the red shirts sang a song to welcome him.
Jatuporn then gave a short speech to thank the gathered red shirts, the large number of reporters waiting for him, prison officials and his inmate friends.
He said he had been taken good care of by prison officials and fellow inmates over the year.
Jatuporn recounted meeting some arch political rivals in the prison, including former Phra Buddha Isara, an activist monk who has been defrocked and detained pending a criminal trial. Jatuporn said he had to forgive his enemies in the jail.
Jatuporn said he would attend a meeting with red-shirt leaders at their head office at the Imperial Lard Prao shopping mall to discuss the political future of the movement.
When asked by reporters to name the first thing he would do upon his release, Jatuporn replied tongue-in-cheek, “Getting away from this prison”, and then got in his van and left.