Another Facebook user arrested for royal defamation

The Criminal Court has detained a 53-year-old Facebook user accused of lèse majesté after he was arrested by the military and held for six days in a military base.    

On 11 May 2017, the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Rd., Bangkok, remanded in custody Ekarit (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 53-year-old man accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

He will initially be detained for a period of 12 days until 22 May with the possibility of renewal. The court denied bail citing the severity of the charge and flight risk.  

He was accused of lèse majesté for posting images of the King with comments deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy on a Facebook account named ‘Adisak Sakun-ngoen’.

He is also accused under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act, which criminalizes the importation of illegal computer content.

According to Pawinee Chumsri of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Ekarit has denied the accusations, maintaining that he is innocent.

The lawyer added that Ekarit was detained at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok for six days before being taken to the court by the authorities.

His arrest came shortly after the detention of six people accused of lèse majesté and violations of the Computer Crime Act for sharing a Facebook post about the missing 1932 Revolution plaque posted by Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an academic currently living in self-imposed exile in France.

Two of the six are also accused of breaching Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law.

Thailand’s lèse majesté law imposes jail terms on those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Persons found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count.

To date, at least 64 individuals are either imprisoned or detained awaiting trial on lèse majesté charges, as it is extremely rare for lèse majesté suspects to be released on bail by the court of justice or the military court.  

Ekarit behind bars (Photo from the Facebook page of Nithiwat Wannasiri)