Nati Hadad, an Israeli man who was sentenced in 2018 to four years in prison in Thailand for operating an illegal medical clinic, as well as for firearms offenses, was freed on Sunday morning from the Israeli prison where he was serving the remainder of his sentence.
Hadad’s early release was granted by a parole board in coordination with prosecutors and conditioned on a nightly curfew. Additionally, he has to report to a police station approximately every two weeks and is not permitted to leave the country before the end of his parole period. Reports Sunday did not detail how long that would take, nor how much time was lopped off the end of his sentence.
Hadad was greeted at the prison gates by family and friends, where he thanked everyone for their support and vowed to clear his name.
“I will do everything to prove my innocence,” he told the Kan public broadcaster. “I want to thank all the people who did everything to bring me back to Israel and my amazing mother.”
“I was in hell for three years. I was with 55 people in a room, very difficult conditions,” he said. “When I arrived at the Hermon Prison [in Israel] I thought I was in a hotel. It’s weird to say that.”
Hadad said that at one stage in the Thai prison, he had tried to take his own life.
“They made me into something I am not,” Hadad said. “They said I was a drug dealer [but] they caught me with drugs that are in every home.”
Hadad was jailed following his arrest in 2017 for operating an illegal clinic on the Thai island of Koh Samui and being in possession of an unlicensed handgun. He reportedly provided medicines and medical services for Israelis visiting Thailand.
He was removed from a prison on Ko Samui in June of this year and transferred to the capital, Bangkok. Upon arrival in Israel he underwent medical tests and was taken to Ayalon Prison, where he was quarantined before his transfer to Hermon Prison.
The Israel Prisons Service said that Hadad tested negative for the coronavirus upon his arrival in Israel.
Hadad’s plight had gained the intervention of, among others, President Reuven Rivlin and former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who was in office for much of the period of the diplomatic efforts to move him to Israel for the remainder of his sentence.
In June 2019, Rivlin sent a letter to the Thai king asking him to grant Hadad a royal pardon due to his “critical medical and mental state.”
Then in March 2020, Rivlin announced that, after his personal appeal to the king of Thailand, Hadad would be returning to Israel to serve out the remainder of his sentence.