The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) has sent an open letter to PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, expressing its concerns over the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression in Thailand and calling on him to look into the issue as he has always promised to do.
BANGKOK Oct.2 -- The arrest and legal procedure of the case against Prachatai director Chiranuch Premchiaporn were both unfair and unlawful, said Chiranuch’s attorney. Chiranuch’s lawyer Anon Nampa, who drove from Saraburi province to accompany her during the interrogation at Khon Kaen provincial police station in Northeastern Thailand, said the charges against her are too severe and constitute unjustifiable use of law. “The charges are filed at random,” Anon said. “It clearly is political slandering.”
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of prachatai.com, an online newspaper, which is regarded by some as being pro-red and has been blocked since April, was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport last Friday on charges of lese majeste and violating the computer crime law over comments posted by other users. Upon returning from a seminar on cyber liberty in Hungary, she was driven straight to Khon Kaen province to face charges filed against her two years ago. She is now out on Bt200,000 bail and tells The Nation's Pravit Rojanaphruk about her ordeal. Here are some excerpts:
Paris-Bangkok, 27 September 2010 - On Friday, September 24, 2010, at approximately 2.30PM, the Thai immigration police arrested Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, executive director of Prachatai, an independent news website, at the Bangkok Airport on charges of defaming the monarchy of Thailand and of violating articles 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act and article 112 of the criminal code. Ms. Premchaiporn was returning from Hungary, where she had attended a conference entitled The Internet at Liberty 2010.
At about 1 am on 25 Sept, Chiranuch Premchaiporn was granted bail after placing 200,000 baht in cash as a guarantee. She denied all charges during police interrogation. She has to report to the police at Khon Kaen Police Station on 24 Oct. Over a dozen readers of Prachatai in Khon Kaen gathered at the police station to give her moral support.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, an online news editor in Thailand, was arrested on 24 September under the country’s 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act. She is being held in Khon Kaen police station in north-eastern Thailand. Chiranuch Premchaiporn is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression, and should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Chiranuch Premchaipoen, the editor of the news website Prachatai, was arrested today at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on her return from a conference on Internet freedom in Budapest. Police showed her a warrant issued by a court in the northwestern province of Khon Kaen accusing her of defaming the royal family and of violating articles 14 and 15 of the Computer Crimes Act and article 112 of the criminal code.
According to Matichon, Pol Lt Col Chachpong Pongsuwan, investigator at Khon Kaen Police Station, said that a lèse majesté charge had been lodged against Chiranuch Premchaiporn since 2008. The case has been vetted by the Provincial Police Board Region 4, and is now being prosecuted by a department of the National Police Bureau. A summons is not necessary in this case because the offence carries a severe penalty.
The charges against Chiranuch were made by the Superintendent of Khon Kaen Police who alleged that she, as website administrator, and website users violated Sections 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and Section 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse majesté) for offensive comments made on the website on 27 April 2009. (Correction: the charges were made by Sunimit Jirasuk, a local businessman in Khon Kaen, for comments on Prachatai in April 2008 about Chotisak Onsoong.)
A landmark cyber-crime case in Thailand commenced on 31 May 2010, with the accused, website administrator Chiranuch Premchaiporn, officially denying the 10 counts of Computer Crime Act violation filed against her. The Criminal Court set the trial's first hearing on 4 February 2011, even as the Court approved the prosecution's 14 witnesses and the defense's 13 witnesses in the pre-trial session.