Police arrest lèse majesté suspect linked to “Banpodj Network”

The police arrested a lèse majesté suspect from northern Thailand and accused him of posting lèse majesté content on Facebook. He was accused of being part of the Banpodj Network, an alleged criminal organisation, which produces online and other electronic content to discredit the junta and the monarchy.

On Saturday morning, Bangkok’s military court granted the police permission to detain Wittaya [surname withheld], a native of the northern province of Lamphun who is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law.

Wittaya will be detained for 12 days in Bangkok Remand Prison with the possibility of the period of detention being renewed. He did not object to the custody request.

According to the police, the suspect posted content defaming the King on a Facebook profile named ‘Vladislave Vince.’  

The police deceived Wittaya into thinking he was in contact with Banpodj through the Banpodj Facebook account.  They asked him for his mobile phone number. Not knowing that the police were using this Facebook account, the suspect gave his contact details to the police and was arrested shortly after.  

After his arrest, the suspect was detained at Lamphun Provincial Administration Office and was then brought to Kawila Military Base in Chiang Mai for one night’s detention.

On 9 February, the police arrested Hassadin U., a man accused of being Banpodj, the central figure of the alleged lèse majesté network. Hassadin confessed that he was Banpodj -- host of a political podcast programme which was very influential and popular among the anti-establishment red shirts.

At least ten people have been arrested because of alleged involvement in the Banpodj Network. Most of the suspects were tricked by the police using the Facebook accounts of other network members to get personal information and whereabouts.