Chiranuch gets suspended jail term

On 30 May, the Criminal Court found Prachatai Director Chiranuch Premchaiporn guilty of allowing readers’ comments deemed offensive to the monarchy to remain on the Prachatai webboard for too long.

The court sentenced her to one year in prison and a fine of 30,000 baht, under Section 15 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, but reduced the jail term to 8 months and the fine to 20,000 baht, citing her cooperation in the judicial process, and finally suspended the jail term for one year because ‘the defendant has never been convicted before and in order for the defendant to have the opportunity to become a good citizen of the country’.

According to the court verdict, Chiranuch had allowed the offensive comments to remain on the webboard mostly for 1-3 and 10 days, with one particular comment appearing up to 20 days.

The court said that such was enough time for the defendant to be aware of the comments and delete them, so this was considered neglect of duty and therefore by implication consent in committing a computer crime.  

Regarding the defendant’s claim that the number of comments on the webboard had increased after the 2006 coup and the website had also put up more measures to deal with it, the court considered that the defendant had performed her duties, but that was not sufficient.

The court acknowledged that freedom of expression, as claimed by the defendant during trial, was important and upheld by all constitutions, and it reflected the good governance and democracy of a country.  However, in promoting such freedom, the defendant must keep watch over comments which affect national security and respect the rights and freedom of other people as well, the court said.

The court said that Section 15 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act did not specify any timeframe for service providers to deal with offensive comments and for authorities to give notification.  Given the nature of posting comments on webboard which appear immediately prior to moderators’ consent, if service providers are to be considered complicit and be held responsible immediately, that would be unjust to them, but if they claim that they are not aware of such comments, denying any responsibility, this would go against the purpose of the law, the court said.

It was acceptable for the court to hear the defendant’s claim that she had not been aware of those comments which remained on the webboard for 1-3 and 10 days, but not for the one that remained for 20 days.  So the court considered that the defendant intentionally consented to, or supported the commission of a crime.

After hearing the verdict, Chiranuch said that she was quite satisfied with the verdict which was reasonable.  However, she would consult her lawyers on whether or not to appeal the case, as the conviction concerned a very important issue of how or whether ‘intermediaries’ or service providers should be held liable.

Source: 

http://www.prachatai.com/node/40757

However, in promoting such

However, in promoting such freedom, the defendant must keep watch over comments which affect national security ...

The security of a nation cannot be affected by what's written on a webboard, or by what is in peoples' heads ... although hopefully the security of a dictatorial and repressive regime might be. The agents of the dictatorial and repressive Royalist Thai regime seem frightened it is.

It was acceptable for the court to hear the defendant’s claim that she had not been aware of those comments which remained on the webboard for 1-3 and 10 days, but not for the one that remained for 20 days.

And where was this posting that no one knew of, that no one saw but its poster?

Anyone bent on disrespecting something posts it where it will be seen by as many as possible and the disrespect widely registered.

Someone posting something disrespectful in an out-of-the-way place, a place where it is likely to remain unseen, is likely to elude detection, may well have been doing so to ensure its longevity, to make sure that in future a court might say,

" ... It was acceptable for the court to hear the defendant’s claim that she had not been aware of those comments which remained on the webboard for 1-3 and 10 days, but not for the one that remained for 20 days ... "

This is consistent with a frame-up, just as was Grandfather Amphon's 'case' ... four SMS messages sent to a single person at a private phone number extremely unlikely to have been within Amphon's purview. We will perhaps never know who actually sent the SMS messages that led to Amphon's life sentence and death behind bars, alone.

As well we will perhaps never know who posted this message, said to be such a danger to Thai 'national security', somewhere on the Prachatai website so obscure that it was able to sit unknown and thus unmolested, to tick away, like a timebomb, before exploding as casus inquisiti.

And of course the floodgates of inquisition remain locked, with all of us inside, just as the rain begins in earnest.