An anti-junta historian has reported to the police or sharing a fake news report about a purse of Prayut’s wife. He denied all accusations and observed that this lawsuit was the junta’s effort to silence criticism.
On 31 January 2018, Charnvit Kasetsiri, former President of Thammasat University, reported to the police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to hear a cybercrime charge against him.
The police accused Charnvit of violating Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act. If found guilty, he will face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to 100,00 baht, or both.
The accusation emerged after the historian shared on his Facebook account a false news report that Naraporn Chan-ocha, wife of junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha, had a two-million-baht Hermes purse, while it is, in fact, a product of Thailand’s Royal Folk Arts And Crafts Centre and costs no more than 10,000 baht. Subsequently, the TCSD accused Charnvit of disseminating forged computer data likely to cause damage to a third party, a violation the Computer Crimes Act.
Upon arriving at the TCSD, Charnvit read a statement, saying he will deny all accusations and reiterated that he merely exercised his freedom of expression. He also observed that this case is one of the junta’s attempts to shut down criticism.
Rulers in non-democratic regimes do not have to hear criticism or the “sound of the common house gecko” read Charnvit’s statement.
Here is the full statement.
Dear Friends and the Media,
I thank sincerely all those who have taken an interest in my case. As you well know, I am in this situation because of the police. Government officials from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) have summoned me as a defendant. The case is currently the subject of a police inquiry. The subject is a post and message about the Prime Minister's wife, which I commented upon.
I will deny the charges and confirm my right as a Thai citizen to express an opinion. It is not something wrong in law or morals, as I have been accused. For details and my approach to fighting the case, please consult my lawyer to follow the case and he will explain further details after meeting the TCSD and fingerprinting.
I would like to thank my family, students, and the general public who have come to give me encouragement. In such difficult times, I well realize how ‘encouragement’ has meaning and value in life.
I believe in innocence and in the expression of opinion but I cannot refrain from the premonition that my case is one of many which are called SLAPP cases (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). Rulers in non-democratic regimes do not have to hear criticism or the “sound of the common house gecko”.
January 31, 2018