Court denies bail for Wikileaks cables’ seller convicted of lèse majesté

The Supreme Court on Monday denied bail to Ekachai Hongkangwan, a 35-year-old man convicted of lèse majesté for selling copies Wikileaks cables and an ABC news documentary on Thailand’s monarchy, citing flight risk.

On March 28 this year he was sentenced to five years, later reduced to three years and four months, for defaming the monarchy by selling documents and VCDs deemed offensive to HRH the Crown Prince at a red shirt rally. The Criminal and Appeals Courts earlier denied his appeals for bail citing the same reason.

Eakachai’s lawyer Anon Nampa said the bail offered was 500,000 baht in cash (around 16,666 USD) and land deeds worth 582,400 baht (around 19,400 USD). The appeal document noted the necessity for Ekachai to take care of his mother who cannot walk due to hip surgery, and his father who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and that his prison term is not serious punishment; he therefore deserved temporary release.

“The defendant insisted that he had no ill intention against the law. The action of the defendant was done according to the law with good intentions, without any harm intended to the monarchy,” stated the appeal document.

“Criticism is at the heart of democracy. Currently, Thailand is criticized for the use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code by human rights organizations and the international community as never before. Whether the action is defamation and insult, or criticism must be carefully considered case by case,” it said.




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