Lèse majesté suspect released after arrest for posting images of Crown Prince

A military court in northern Thailand has released a man after he spent more than a month in detention accused of defaming the Thai Crown Prince.

On 17 November 2016, the Military Court of northern Chiang Rai Province granted bail to Sarawut (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 32-year-old optometrist, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported.

The police summoned Sarawut to hear accusations against him on 11 October and detained him after the hearing. He is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for allegedly posting two images of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy.

After denying three earlier requests, the military court finally granted bail to Sarawut after his family submitted a land title deed valued at 400,000 baht as surety.

The investigation of Sarawut began when soldiers from the 37th Military Circle of Chiang Rai filed a complaint against Sarawut under Article 112 on 21 July 2016, accusing of him of posting certain images of the Crown Prince on Facebook before deleting them.

After the complaint was filed, the police confiscated Sarawut’s electronic devices under a search warrant on 26 August 2016 before sending them to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD).

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."