U.S. citizen and lèse majesté prisoner Joe Gordon is “learning a lot about Thai politics, in prison,” and intends to mount a serious charge against the Thai Government in light of his ongoing incarceration.
Joe Gordon – A political figure?
“Before I was arrested, I had no feeling this way or that, for the ‘yellow shirts,’ or the ‘red shirts’,” Mr. Gordon stated, in an interview earlier this week. “I was only here on vacation, and I’m not Thai, you know? I didn’t really care about that stuff.”
Today, “I consider myself a political prisoner,” he says, “since I was arrested around the time of the election. I share a cell with (red shirt activist) Surachai (Saedarn),” he says. “There’s a few of us lèse majesté prisoners here, in the same building. He’s a good man, he speaks sense on this issue, and I have a lot of respect for him… So yes, since (my incarceration) started, I’ve learnt a lot.”
Mr. Gordon remains concerned that the Thai justice system favors a conviction in his case, and feels that judicial independence cannot be guaranteed: points learned, he says, from ‘red shirts’ on the ‘inside’.
“I have no reason to believe that under the Thai legal system, that I’ll receive any justice. There’s no chance I could win: it’s just not a fair system,” Mr. Gordon says. “Judges are not impartial, and only want to maintain their ‘official’ bias. This is why it is important that the U.S. Government act to protect their citizens by ensuring my immediate release... Most people just cannot fight the system.”
So too, in recent weeks, has Mr. Gordon received an increasing number of visits from red shirt groups, such as Red Siam.
Earlier today, a number of such supporters arrived at Bangkok Remand Prison, if only to offer Mr. Gordon consolatory words of support.
“They have a close friendship with Joe, now, and they visit often,” says a close source.
U.S. Embassy issues a Statement – Joe Gordon thinks it “not enough”
In recent days, the U.S. Embassy released a first, and largely unexpected, public statement, pertaining to Mr. Gordon’s case. It reads:
“The United States is disappointed by the prosecutor’s decision to file lèse majesté charges against U.S. citizen Joe Gordon. We have discussed Mr. Gordon's case extensively with Thai authorities, stressing at every possible opportunity his rights as an American citizen. We urge the Thai authorities to ensure freedom of expression is respected and that Mr. Gordon, a U.S. citizen, receives fair treatment.”
“’Disappointment’ from the United States is not enough,” says Mr. Gordon. “There needs to be a stronger statement. It would be simple, you know. Free Joe. Now!”
Lèse Majesté “war room”?
Earlier today, the Bangkok Post quoted Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, reporting that “the government will set up a war room to curb the activities of websites with lèse majesté content.”
Human Rights Watch researcher, Sunai Phasuk, was quick to describe the move as landing “free speech in Thailand… another heavy blow.”
The move comes as earlier this month Reporters without Borders again issued a statement on lèse majesté, which called on “the new government (to) take the country on a new course that includes more respect for freedom of expression.”
This Tuesday, (August 30) Mr. Gordon intends to launch a direct petition to the Thai Government regarding his case. Following the appeal, Mr. Gordon intends to make public a letter currently being drafted to U.S. President Barack Obama.
Mr. Gordons says the letter will call upon the U.S. Government to publicly condemn his incarceration and ensure his immediate release.