Detention renewed for Facebook user accused of lèse majesté

Thai Military Court has extended the pre-trial detention of a man accused of creating a copycat Facebook profile under his friend’s name to take revenge by posting lèse majesté messages and images.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the Military Court of Bangkok on Monday, 4 January 2016, for the second time granted permission to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to detain Wichai T., a 33-year-old from the northern province of Chiang Mai suspected of offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

The suspect will be detained from 5-16 January 2016 with the possibility of having the custody permission further renewed.

Wichai was arrested on 23 December 2015 after the police received a complaint from an unidentified Facebook user that someone had created a copycat Facebook profile under his name and profile picture and posted messages defamatory to the Thai monarchy on it.  

After investigating the case, the police found that Wichai, who was a best friend turned foe of the Facebook user who submitted the complaint, was behind the fake Facebook profile.

The TCSD police reported that Wichai posted a total of six lèse majesté images and comments.

In addition to the charges under Article 112, Wichai also faces charges under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Code for importing illegal information on the internet and Articles 326 and 328 on criminal defamation.

Thai Netizen Network (TNN), a CSO promoting internet freedom, in 2011 recorded several cases of copycat Facebook pages/profiles which posted explicit lèse majesté material as a ploy to cause trouble to ultra-royalists using the laws they themselves support.

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