It began in 2008 when Ellis found extracts of an old report on organic agriculture that he had prepared for the Thai government copied in a dissertation from a PhD student at Bangkok's top Chulalongkorn University. Upon further research he found most of it was plagiarized. Unfortunately the student was Mr Supachai Lorlowhakarn the director of Thailand's National Innovation Agency (NIA), which is the Thai government body responsible for finding and investing in new Thai companies and a driver of IP protection in Thailand.
Dr Ellis reported the student. The university initially did nothing. The NIA director filed a number of court cases against Dr Ellis, including criminal defamation. A campaign of harassment began against Ellis. A journalist reporting the case was also sued and had to leave the country. By 2012 the University had investigated and revoked the PhD, criminal charges were filed against the NIA director and he was forced to leave office. Eventually Ellis won or settled all the court cases, by 2014. The battle seemed over. But in one last gasp a 2009 immigration blacklist entry has led to Ellis being detained as a national security threat.
The case is reported widely due to the IP issues, the fact of the official being director of a key innovation organization and because of extreme use of official power.