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13 years in prison for posting three messages on website criticising Thailand king

A Thai policeman stands guard beside a large board carrying a picture of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, oustide Government House in Bangkok on February 8, 2011.

A 13-year jail sentence has been imposed by a Bangkok court on Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, the administrator of website linked to the anti-government Red Shirt Movement, for three messages critical of the king that he allegedly posted on the site, called Nor Por Chor USA.

Thanthawut, who has been detained since his arrest on April 1, 2010, was given a 10-year sentence under a section of the criminal code covering lèse-majesté and a three-year sentence under the Computer Crime Act.

The sentences were particularly severe given that the maximum penalty for lèse-majesté is 15 years in prison. The Thai constitution guarantees freedom of expression but, according to a December 2010 report by the iLaw Project, there have been 31 cases of lèse-majesté since 2007, 11 of which also involved the Computer Crimes Act.

When originally interrogated by the police after his arrest, Thanthawut confessed to posting the three offending messages on the site, two of them as the “admin” and the third under a pseudonym. But he retracted this during the trial. His lawyer has appealed against his conviction. An appeal court is to rule tomorrow on a request for his release on bail. Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) urged the court to grant this request and to overturn his conviction.

Thailand is one of the countries “under surveillance” in the updated “Enemies of the Internet” report that RSF released on March 12.

Date posted: March 18, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 144