"My name is Joe Gordon"
On Friday Prachatai reported that dual Thai/U.S. nationality Mr. Joe Gordon had been charged "with lèse majesté, inciting unrest and disobedience of the law in public, and disseminating computer data which threatens national security… The DSI allege that he owns a blog which offers a link to download 'The King Never Smiles', a book banned in Thailand."
There have since been reports that Mr. Gordon is alleged to have been involved in the online publication of a Thai-language version of the same title. So too that he had been charged as a Thai, rather than a U.S. national. If found guilty, he could face up to 22 years in prison.
"My name is Joe Gordon. I am a citizen of the United States," he says, immediately, on picking up at the prisoner's phone. He speaks quickly, short on time and energy: there are four others waiting to speak in this fifteen-minute allotment.
"My name is Joe Gordon.
"(Last Tuesday) the DSI (Department of Special Investigations) came to arrest me. They brought twenty officials with them, to my house. I'd just come out of the bathroom. I was only wearing a towel around my waist. So I asked them, 'Can I put some clothes on, please?' They said, "No! Sit right there," as they went through my things.
They searched through everything. Then they took all my money; my computer, my hard drive, and my phone."
"They kept using my old Thai name. That's what they had on the warrant. And that's what they kept calling me! I told them: "I don't use that name, anymore! I have not used that name in years. My name is Joe Gordon."
"I had no intention of getting involved in politics, here," he says. "Red shirt, yellow shirt?" He shakes his head.
"I taught some people how to make a blog," he says. "In America. I taught those people how to cut-and-paste material. I think a blog is more like a personal diary. I had no intention of getting involved in this."
"I feel as though I'm being held hostage," he says. "That the DSI could invade my privacy - that they could plant anything they like on my computer - with me, having no way to prove my innocence."
"I want President Obama and (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton to intervene in my behalf - to pay attention to what's happening to me," he says. "To help me. I'm a citizen of the United States."
A siren sounds, signaling an end to this brief, fraught interlude. He presses the receiver to his lips. "I want to be out of here," he says, again. "I want my freedom back. In the United States, I can express my views freely, like any other American."
A visiting friend, weary and distressed, watches as he leaves. Dust on the glass, like the grain of film, lends this scene a surreal, almost cinematic quality. Joe W. Gordon struggles to his feet, but his arthritic knees hold up the passing parade. With a strong grip on a neighborly shoulder, he turns. He gives the two-fingered signal - 'peace!' - before stumbling, limply, through the exit.
US Embassy officials would not comment on the conditions under which Mr. Gordon entered into Thailand. DSI officials and Mr. Gordon's lawyers have yet to release the full nature of those charges; nor could they be reached for comment.