Authorities intimidate Facebook followers of exiled monarchy critic

The authorities have summoned or visited at least six people across the country who follow the Facebook page of an exiled academic. The authorities informed them that following the academic could be considered lèse majesté.
 
 
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Since 4 October 2016, Prachatai has received reports of at least six cases of intimidation against people who follow Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic currently living in exile in Paris. 
 
Somsak is known for his active role in criticising Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, and in encouraging reform of the Thai monarchy. He himself faces lèse majesté charges filed by the army and countless acts of intimidation.
 
Phim (pseudonym) told Prachatai that she recently received a call from a Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) official. He ‘invited’ her to talk, claiming that Phim has liked and shared lèse majesté content from Somsak’s Facebook page.
 
“After the BBC Thai biography was published, I saw Somsak posted about it on Facebook so I followed him so that I could read his comments after work. I just want to know what’s going on. But a couple of days later, a man called me saying he was from the TCSD. He said he wanted to talk to me because I’ve shared and liked messages that potentially constitute lèse majesté,” said Phim.
 
The caller also knew her address and asked Phim to confirm whether she currently lives there. When Phim said she was away, the official asked when and how she would return. The questions made her felt very threatened.     
 
“He threw a lot of questions at me. Am I in Bangkok right now? When I will come back home? He said he wanted to talk to me to create reconciliation,” Phim added.
 
Phim said that she has agreed to meet with authorities some time over the next few days. She did not want the reveal the exact date. 
 
In another case in Sukhothai Province, police officers summoned a 23-year-old male for interrogation after the authorities found that he was following Somsak and the anti-junta activist Jatuphat Bunpattaraksa on Facebook. 
 
The officers asked him to apologise for his ‘improper actions’ before a portrait of King Rama IX. He was also asked to vow that he has no bad intentions against the monarchy. After he made such an apology, the police released him without pressing charges.   
 
In Bangkok a male Facebook user was similarly summoned to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) because he liked one of Somsak’s posts. After a talk with a police officer, he was released without charge. 
 
The CSD also reportedly summoned for talks another two Facebook users who follow Somsak in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Samut Prakan provinces.