Website editor’s trial resumes, court hears defence witnesses

The trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the editor of the Prachatai news website, resumed before a Bangkok court on 14 February after a long interruption, with testimony being heard on 14, 15 and 16 February from five defence witnesses. At the end of yesterday’s hearing, the court announced that it would issue its verdict on 30 April.

Better known by the pen-name of Jiew, Chiranuch is facing a possible 20-year jail sentence under article 15 of the Computer Crimes Act and paragraph 112 of the criminal code for not removing certain comments from her website quickly enough. Posted by visitors to the site, the comments were deemed to have insulted the monarchy. (Read the previous Reporters Without Borders press releases on this case.)

Chiranuch’s lawyer said that he was satisfied with the way the testimony by the defence witnesses went and that it would count in his client’s favour. At the end of the 14 February hearing, Chiranuch told Reporters Without Borders she was pleased that the defence witnesses were finally able to give their evidence.

Reporters Without Borders, which urges the court to acquit Chiranuch, interviewed her about the trial, the Thai media’s coverage of the case and censorship in general in Thailand.

Summary of defence witness testimony

On 14 August, the court received testimony from Kittiphum Juthasmit, a Prachatai website moderator, Sawatree Suksri, a lecturer Thammassat University’s law faculty, and Jittat Facckaroenphol, a computer science lecturer at Kasetsart University.

Kittiphum testified that Prachatai had created a team of 12 volunteer moderators whose tasks included removing unlawful comments from the website but, when the volume of comments increased exponentially after the September 2006 coup d’état, it became impossible to verify all the comments.

In written evidence to the court, Sawatree said the provisions of the Computer Crimes Act and other Thai legislation regarding the moderation of website comments compared unfavourably with the legislation in other countries.

Jittat testified about the difficulties of moderating a website forum and Prachatai’s efforts to improve its own system, which were cut short by the closure of its forum.

Reporters Without Borders attended the 15 and 16 February hearings. On 15 February, Wanchat Padungrat, the owner and administrator of (Thailand’s biggest web portal), said his site used a key-word filtering programme and team of five or six full-time employees to moderate the comments posted by visitors to the site.

Wanchat said that it was nonetheless impossible to verify all the comments because of their volume and in some cases their ambiguity. Verifying comments before they were posted would be too expensive for any Thai website, he said. While certain individuals had been prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act for the comments they posted on his site, his company had never been prosecuted, he pointed out. Monitoring all comments was impossible from both a technical and commercial viewpoint, he stressed.

Around 30 people attended yesterday’s hearing, including representatives from the Canadian, Finnish, Swedish and US embassies, a representative of the Helsinki Commission, C.J. Hinke of Fight Against Censorship in Thailand (FACT) and other activists.

Professor Pirongrong Ramasoota, an expert in communication from Chulalongkorn University, submitted written testimony yesterday but did not speak in court because the prosecution chose to accept his evidence without disputing any of it.

“It is a good sign,” Chiranuch’s lawyer told Reporters Without Borders after the hearing. “By approving the document, the prosecutor is approving its content, which favours our strategy. Since Tuesday, the court has been fair. The judge listens to the points of the defendant and just before it ended today, he mentioned that the international standards for Internet forum regulation force him to be more careful and do a lot of research.”

Pirongrong’s written testimony consisted of a survey of Internet forum regulation since the 2006 coup that included Prachatai as a case study.

Pirongrong told Reporters Without Borders: “Since the coup, every media has had to be really careful. The document states that Chiranuch placed emphasis on a policy of ‘deleting any content that may be false and cannot be verified.’ It shows that she already had taken this precaution back in 2006 in order not to be victim of a lawsuit.”

The judge insisted during yesterday’s hearing that the case against Prachatai was politically neutral. The defence now has 30 days to submit final written arguments. Both the prosecution and the defence have the possibility of appealing against the verdict that is due to be issued on 30 April.


Since Tuesday, the court has

Since Tuesday, the court has been fair. The judge listens to the points of the defendant

One would hope the courts are always fair and will always listen to the points of the defendant - that's what courts are for. But this is Thailand of course and Thais only have a vague and uninformed view of what is expected from legal systems in the civilised world. Its a part of their charm no doubt.

"and just before it ended today, he mentioned that the international standards for Internet forum regulation force him to be more careful and do a lot of research.”

The trial is a year old and the judge has only just noticed there are international standards so he has to get up off his ass and find out what they are? A fine testament to Thailand that is - considering Thais want Thailand to be taken seriously.

It is difficult to weigh this

It is difficult to weigh this RSF report with any merit since there is no disclosure by them, or by Prachatai that they are both funded by the same foreign interests.

Again, no mention, no editor's note that both Prachatai and Reporters Without Borders are both sponsored by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy - regardless of whether this conflict of interest has produced gross improprieties (I'd propose that constant blind unwavering support constitutes as such) it must be disclosed in the interest of full-disclosure and transparency.

If you support Prachatai, then you have all the more reason to encourage them to practice what they preach and disclose fully in each post containing incestuous relationships how they are related. If you truly believe there is nothing wrong with being part of an entire network funded by the same handful of foreign corporate-financier elite - what do you have to hide?

Hiding this, failing to disclose it - however you'd like to put it, simply makes you look incredibly suspicious. It is also highly suspicious that I cannot find a "เกี่ยวกับเรา" section on the Thai version containing Prachatai's full funding - let alone full disclosure in posts featuring organizations directly related to Prachatai.

Disclose fully your connections and funding for all to see, clearly, constantly and let them make the decision whether or not you warrant legitimacy and respect. Hiding it is deceitful - and for that alone - for stringing people along and relying on their ignorance, you belong on trial.

Off topic. Kindly piss off

Off topic.

Kindly piss off and get a clue.

Thank you.

Your immaturity and crass

Your immaturity and crass behavior reflects upon everyone else here - others who might actually value transparency and strive to help Prachatai improve their standards and perhaps get out of the compromising position they're in.

If I could have my way, Prachatai would fully disclose EVERYTHING, denounce their indefensible ties to NED, and become TRULY independent Why not use this platform to report the problems facing Thai people and debate technical solutions instead of arguing over two elitist cliques, lofty political ideals which neither put food in people's stomachs nor roofs over their head (not to mention provide them with decent educations).

The inability to accept criticism and instead lash out in uncivil terms is a brick wall impeding progress, not a path leading to it. I have learned much from some of the more sincere readers here at Prachatai, while I may not agree with them - and upon re-reading one of my favorite speeches, "A Time to Break Silence" I was reminded,

"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition."

I strive toward real progress, a middle ground for a foundation built on compromise. I do not believe in a zero-sum game for Thailand where either entrenched elites or a foreign-funded usurper must triumph, but one where we amongst ourselves can understand the problems and work on real, tangible solutions together.

This speech helped me see the error of my own adversarial posture (addressing it may take some time)- perhaps it will help you too.

This fellow in reality only

This fellow in reality only has two or three song sheets, and he sings from them, and one in particular, over and over again, wasting space on a discussion forum which should be for open and informed debate conducted in a civilised manner.

And how about the stuff he posts? With apologies to all for referring to an issue which, quite understandably, will be of little interest to most, but which is revealing nonetheless, I highlight a comment made by him some days ago: "The Crown Estate clearly operates an oligarchy that controls business, finance, media and so on" Against some very stiff competition, this must rank as the most risible, nonsensical piece of rubbish emanating from tony's fevered imagination.

Briefly, the Crown Estate manages property owned in the UK by "The Crown" not property owned privately by the British Queen. (I won't bore you with the distinction between the two) It mainly comprises farmland, rural estates and areas in London. I'm not even going to bother to ask him for proof of his fantastical claim, he doesn't have any.

If he is capable of issuing such ludicrous accusations with no connection to reality on this matter, then what credibility can he have left?

Robin, you incessantly defend

Robin, you incessantly defend multinational corporations, international bankers, US-Israeli warmongering, and now the British royal family?

You claim to agree with the principles and spirit found here on US-funded Prachatai, but when it comes to hereditary power, in whatever capacity back in your Kingdom, you find it defensible to split hairs and play semantics defending what is still obviously a disproportionately wealthy and influential institution throughout the West?

Not only is this hypocritical, but your defense sounds as if it were lifted (it was) from the "about us" page you might find on the Crown Estate website - as if there is no possibility for misrepresentation.
(and yes it is property of the whoever the ruling monarchy is, says it right in the FAQ.)

I bet if we go to Chevron's website we'll find thriving animals, smiling Africans, sprouting trees, and singing tomorrows articulated with equal fervor throughout their mission statements to convince the witless who may happen across their fig leaf of "corporate responsibility" and believe it - or in your case, copy and paste it elsewhere in their defense.

If I had to reckon, I'd say you were interested in "changing" Thailand not because the status quo here upsets you, but to promote the status quo of your exploitative, backward empire back home.

I have seen shameless of all sorts Robin, but you are a rare case study. You are also an example of how right-wing ideology parasitically attaches itself to progressive agendas.

The US Peace Corps is funded

The US Peace Corps is funded by the US government. Does that mean Peace Corps volunteers in Thailand, as a result, are to be suspect and treated as spies?
Other state agencies and NGOs receive part or all of their funding from the US. Are they all, as a result, to be treated with suspicion and constantly accused of political crimes?

US soldiers are generally

US soldiers are generally well-intentioned, good-hearted, and truly believe what they are doing is fighting for "freedom" and "democracy." Despite this, they are still tools of modern day imperialism, carrying out crimes on both a national, international, and personal level.

Do they do good? Yes, surely they do, I have seen it. The vector sum of their work, however, is not "good" by any measure.

Of course they are not truly fighting for these ideals anywhere beyond their minds and hearts. We must separate people drawn into these disingenuous organizations, and those running them, with full knowledge of the deceit they are promoting.

I am the product of witnessing and awakening from US military service. Coincidentally, my friend woke up similarly in the service of the US Peace Corps - specifically in Guatemala. I will not tell you what to believe, but please consider this - "Empire's Double Edged Sword: Global Military & NGOs"

I am not accusing you of being "evil" just by associating with these organizations in innocent ignorance. You would however exhibit a bankruptcy in courage and moral fortitude if you saw these accusations and obviously compromising associations and did not seriously question it - or worse yet, ignore them for the sake of ideological or financial convenience.

The path to the truth is long and difficult. Challenging everything you believe to be true, no easy task. I am patient and hopeful.


I was almost understanding

I was almost understanding you Tony until you said, "I will not tell you what to believe..". Of course, that is not what you do at Prachatai.

Soldiers are always cogs in bigger wheels, whether they are US soldiers fighting for "God" or Thai soldiers fighting for "monarchy."

I did read your account on "Global Military & NGOs." I agree that imperialism is by no means dead and the case of Iraq is just one of many examples of modern imperialism.

While some aspects of your account are drawn from basic schoolbook history, the problem for me is in the ahistorical use of the good but quite dated book "Colonial Georgia." Your reading of it is the usual cherry-picking.

The claim that "Protestantism for England was also a precursor to modern day NGOs," is your unwarranted interpretation of Reese, writing of 17th century policies and the SE American settlements, that then allow a rant against all NGOs as today somehow being little different from colonial Trustees of centuries ago.

It is poor historiography - though I realize that this is a big claim for a blog post - to be reading history with little more than an eye for the odd details that appears to support a particular world view that is conspiricist in conception.

And, of course, not related at all to a present-day webmaster facing a biased judiciary charged with ridiculous crimes against a fabulously wealthy monarchy.

No semantics, just a

No semantics, just a straightforward challenge to false accusations against the Crown Estate. And, as I expected, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the accusations, only more dissembling, and evasion.

Apologies again to other readers for referring to matters concerning the monarchy in Britain, which really have no relevance to the issues championed by prachatai, however I wanted to expose this fellow once and for all. It follows that if he can lie about the role of this institution, then his credibility and his integrity are destroyed. Everything else he writes is tainted by association.

On that note I will finally take the wise advice of others and from now on ignore this individual's comments.

A master propagandist's got

A master propagandist's got the technique down pat to persuade, evade and , if necessary, assuage. Good on you to disengage.

You are here attacking

You are here attacking Thailand's system, as a British national, and defending your own hereditary, corrupt, disproportionately wealthy royal family back home. Your defense comes entirely from the Crown Estate's "about us" page, and what's worse, is you claim the estate is not of the Queen's when the FAQ on the same website confirms that indeed it is.

I bet we could similarly exonerate the Thai military by browsing their website and taking them solely on their word.

The British Crown Estate's use of deceitful legalese to make it both the property of the Queen, and "not" the property of the Queen is what we've come to expect from an increasingly Orwellian and hypocritical West.

Proof that the Queen of England still possesses wide sweeping power? How about the very existence of the Common Wealth!? The Queen intervening in Canadian politics by suspending the Parliament, or the fact that she is the reigning head-of-state of a nation an ocean away....

A royalist, like you Robin, attacking another nation's system, represents not a genuine interest in reform or progress, but rather the elimination of your British Queen's rivals and the expansion of her long standing, decrepit empire.

Good day, Robin.