Sombat Boonngam-anong, a high profile anti-coup and red-shirt activist, has been released from custody after interrogation at a police station in the northeast province of Roi Et related to a lèse majesté charge.
It has been confirmed to Prachatai that the military court granted bail to Sombat on Monday evening. However, because he was charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law, by Roi Et police, he was sent to acknowledge the charges and for interrogation.
In Roi Et, Sombat’s wife placed 300,000 baht in cash as security to bail Sombat. He was granted bail and released on Tuesday.
Sombat was one of the first red-shirt activists to be summoned by the military. He was arrested on the night of June 5 at a house in eastern Chonburi Province where he had been hiding for two weeks. While he was hiding, he was politically very active in cyberspace. He successfully orchestrated an anti-coup gathering on Sunday June 1 at McDonald’s Ratchaprasong branch where a thousand people showed up without his presence.
He was charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code with defying the military’s orders which twice summoned him to meet the military, with sedition, and under the Computer Crime Act for disseminating on the internet information deemed a threat to national security.
After Sombat had been detained in Bangkok, Roi Et police decided to charge Sombat with lèse majesté.
The charges were filed by Wiput Sukprasert, a yellow-shirt businessman, in January 2014 in Roi Et. Wiput, whose code name is “IPad,” has filed at least 15 lèse majesté cases against prominent academics and journalists, including Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior reporter at The Nation, Surapot Taweesak, an academic and columnist for Prachatai, and Prachatai director Chiranuch Premchaiporn.
The police accused Sombat of disseminating a doctored image defaming the monarchy.
The allegedly offensive material is a doctored image of the 2006 coup makers. In the image, photos of Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and a woman replace those of TM the King and Queen, while the faces of the then Army Chief, Navy Chief, Air Force Chief, Police Chief and Supreme Commander are replaced by those of key figures of the PDRC and the Democrat Party.
Sombat told Prachatai that he did not create the doctored photo. He added that he has been very careful over the issue of the monarchy and never really touched the issue.