A man was arrested on Sunday (14 November) in Ubon Ratchathani and accused of hacking the Constitutional Court website following the Court’s ruling that speeches made by several protest leaders and subsequent calls for monarchy reform are treasonous.
The Constitutional Court website after it was hacked
On 11 November, the Constitutional Court’s homepage was apparently hacked and renamed “Kangaroo Court,” a term meaning a court that ignores accepted standards of law and justice. Site content was also replaced a YouTube video of the song “Guillotine” performed by the American hip-hop band Death Grips.
The website went down for several days. It has since come back online, but the homepage contains a message at the bottom saying that the site is under construction. Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said that the Court outsourced its website maintenance to a private company, and that the site might be difficult to restore even though site data had not been tampered with.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on Saturday (13 November), police officers in Warin Chamrap District, Ubon Ratchathani, took Wachira (last name withheld), 33, to Warin Chamrap Police Station. Local activists were told by Wachira’s mother that Wachira and his father were taken to the police station for questioning before being allowed to return home. The police also confiscated their mobile phones and computers.
Police officers returned on Sunday morning (14 November) with an arrest warrant. Wachira was again taken to Warin Chamrap Police Station and his parents were told that he was to be taken to Bangkok and that they should prepare a bail security of 100,000 baht. The police also told them that there was no need for a lawyer.
An arrest record made at Warin Chamrap Police Station without a lawyer present stated that Wachira confessed. However, at the inquiry level, he denied all charges and would be providing more testimony in writing within 30 days.
TLHR said that, while at the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau, Wachira’s lawyers asked the inquiry officer whether he would be granted bail at the inquiry level and were told at that time that they had prepared a room for him. After Wachira denied the charges, a high-ranking police officer joined the questioning and tried to convince him to change his testimony, but his lawyer insisted that it was his right to testify however he wishes.
Wachira was then sent to Thung Song Hong Police Station, where he was held overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request via video conference. He was later granted bail with a security of 25,000 baht. The court did not set any conditions other than ordering him to report to the court on 4 January 2022.
Wachira was charged under Sections 5, 7, 9, and 10 of the Computer Crimes Act with wrongfully accessing a computer system, wrongfully accessing computer data with specific security measure; damaging, destroying, or revising someone else’s computer data; and blocking, deferring, obstructing or interfering with the computer system of someone else and causing it to fail.
Section 5 carries a prison sentence of up to 6 months, a fine of up to 10,000 baht, or both. Section 7 carries a prison sentence of up to 2 years, a fine of up to 40,000 baht, or both. Sections 9 and 10 carry a prison sentence of up to 5 years, a fine of 100,000 baht, or both.
Protesters gathering at the Pathumwan Intersection burned effigies of the 9 Constitutional Court judges during Sunday's protest
On 10 November, a day before the website was hacked, the Constitutional Court ruled that speeches made by protest leaders Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Panupong Jadnok, as well as subsequent calls for monarchy reform, were an intentional abuse of constitutional rights and liberties in an attempt to overthrow the “democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”
The ruling sparked protests from activists and members of the public. Immediately after it was read, reams of paper bearing the messages “Reform the judiciary,” “Reform is not rebellion,” and “Abolishing Section 112 is the first step to monarchy reform” were scattered on the steps of the court building. Activists from the Thalufah group also burned a model of the Democracy Monument to show their opposition to the ruling.
On 11 November, the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) Facebook page posted pictures of activists holding up protest messages - “I am not a rebel,” “An absolute monarchy with the illusion of a democracy,” “Reform does not equal overthrow,” and “Repeal 112” at various locations around Bangkok. Four people also taped “Reform does not equal overthrow” and “Repeal 112” signs to the shop door of Sirivannavari Siam Paragon – the flagship outlet of a fashion brand owned by the King’s youngest daughter, Princess Sirivannavari.
A protest march also took place on Sunday afternoon (14 November) to protest the ruling. Protesters originally planned to march from the Democracy Monument to Sanam Luang but were met with police blockades and had to relocate to the Pathumwan intersection, from where they marched to the German Embassy.