Junta to charge hundreds more with lèse majesté for pressing ‘like’ on Facebook

After the Thai junta’s legal office filed lèse majesté and sedition charges against a factory worker for pressing ‘like’ on Facebook, the police have announced that hundreds more will be charged with lèse majesté for similar actions.   

According to Matichon Online, police investigators are now gathering information and evidence to press charges against 20 administrators of an anti-establishment red-shirt Facebook group called ‘the National Red Shirts Association’.

Hundreds of members of the Facebook page will also be charged with Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for pressing ‘like’ on pictures and content allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy, Matichon reported.

The authorities added earlier that the red-shirt Facebook group is an ‘anti-government’ and ‘anti-monarchy’ group, with about 60,000 members.

On Thursday, 10 December 2015, the court issued an arrest warrant for Thanakorn S.

Security officers on Tuesday night, 8 December 2015, invoked their authority under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which gives them absolute power to maintain national security, to arrest Thanakorn at his house in Samut Prakan Province.

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

On Wednesday, 9 December 2015, 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, filed additional charges against Thakakorn under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, and Article 116, the sedition law.

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.

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, lèse majesté offences 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.