Activist detained pending trial on royal defamation charge

Student activist Panupong Jadnok has once again been detained after being denied bail on a royal defamation charge filed against him by a royalist activist for a Facebook post about monarchy reform.

Panupong Jadnok

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported on Thursday (23 September) that Panupong met with the public prosecutor in the morning. He was informed that the public prosecutor had decided to indict him and he was taken to court.

His lawyer later filed a bail request for Panupong, but the request was denied. The order was signed by judge Chanathip Muanpawong, Deputy Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, who earlier this year denied bail to several pro-democracy activists detained pending trial.

Chanathip is also the judge who sentenced Ampon Tangnoppakul, or “Uncle SMS,” to 20 years in prison on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 in 2011, after Ampon was accused of sending messages to Somkiat Krongwattanasuk, who was at the time the secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which were deemed offensive to the King and Queen.  Ampon died in prison.

Panupong has been charged with royal defamation under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law, and with entering into a computer system data which is an offense to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act. The charge is based on a complaint filed against him by Nangnoi Atsawakittikorn, member of the royalist group Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, which has filed similar complaints against several other activists and netizens.

The complaint was based on a Facebook post on 8 November 2020 which said “Do you think that you will look dignified standing on the ruins of democracy or on the corpses of the people?” along with the hashtag #ปฏิรูปสถาบันกษัตริย์ (#MonarchyReform). The original post also reportedly refers to the King by name.

On 15 September, Panupong was released from the Thanyaburi Remand Prison, where he was detained on charges relating to a protest in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters on 2 August 2021 to demand the release of 32 detained activists. He is now being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

According to TLHR, Panupong is currently facing 9 charges under Section 112; he has already been indicted on 3. He was previously detained pending trial on charges relating to the 19 September 2020 protest, and was in detention for 86 days before being released on 1 June 2021.

Advertisements

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: service@prachatai.com, please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”