Junta presses lèse majesté, sedition charges over man liking Facebook pictures

A 27-year-old factory worker detained for posting infographics about Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal received additional lèse majesté and sedition charges for liking ‘inappropriate’ Facebook pictures.

According to Matichon Online, Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng, the head of the law office of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and Col Burin Thongprapai, a member of the military Judge Advocate General’s Department, at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, 9 December 2015, filed additional charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, and Article 116, the sedition law, against Thakakorn S.

The military officers said that on 2 December Thanakorn clicked ‘like’ on ‘inappropriate’ Facebook pictures. Although the officers did not disclose any information about the Facebook pictures, they alleged that Thanakorn’s actions defamed the Thai monarchy and threatened national security.    

Thanakorn was arrested and detained on Tuesday night.

According to Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the Deputy Police Chief, the police arrested the suspect for allegedly committing offences under the 2007 Computer Crime Act by posting comments and infographics about corruption allegations surrounding Rajabhakti Park online.  

The security officers invoked their authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter which gives them absolute power to maintain national security to arrest Thanakorn at his house in Samut Prakan Province.

The military intelligence unit reported that Thanakorn posted a series of infographics about the park corruption scandal, some of which were created by the New Democracy Movement (NDM), a pro-democracy activist group, on an anti-establishment red shirt Facebook group called ‘The National Red Shirts Association’.

Thanakorn also posted ‘false’ comments to discredit the government on the shared infographics, the police reported.      

The authorities added that the red shirt Facebook group is an ‘anti-government’ and ‘anti-monarchy’ group, which has about 60,000 members, hinting that more arrests will be made.

Thanakorn’s arrest came only a day after military officers on Monday, 7 December 2015, detained more than a dozen activists who were on an excursion to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Some of the activists are from NDM.

The notorious lèse majesté law or Article 112 of the Criminal Code states "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years."

Since the coup, offences under the lèse majesté law have been judged by military courts, which allow no appeal. In August 2015, a Thai military court sentenced a man accused of defaming the Thai monarchy on a social network to 30 years in jail in a trial held in camera. The ruling is the heaviest jail term ever recorded for a lèse majesté case.

In addition to Article 112, Thanakorn could be imprisoned for up to seven years if found guilty under Article 116, the sedition law.