Citizen journalists charged with royal defamation for protest broadcast

Two citizen journalists have been charged with royal defamation and sedition for live broadcasting an event at Siam Paragon on 8 February 2022, in which activists conducted a poll on whether people think they face trouble from royal motorcades.

Worawet and Nui leaving the South Bangkok Criminal Court (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Worawet (last name withheld), who runs the Facebook page Free Our Friends, and Nui (pseudonym), who runs the YouTube channel “Sakdina Sua Daeng,” reported to Pathumwan Police Station yesterday (22 March) after receiving a summons on royal defamation and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code.

In addition to the two charges, they were also charged with resisting officials and refusing to comply with an officer’s order.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that they were charged for participating in the activist group Thaluwang’s royal motorcade poll at Siam Paragon on 8 February. The inquiry officer said they were live broadcasting the event, and that participants in the poll were trying to push through a police blockade near Sa Prathum Palace. Nui was also accused of shouting profanities at police officers trying to take hold of a female activist and charged with insulting an official on duty.

According to TLHR, the inquiry officer did not say how their actions constitute an offense under Sections 112 and 116.

Despite reporting to the police after receiving a summons, the police took them to court for a temporary detention request, claiming that the investigation has not been concluded and that the police still need to interview 10 other witnesses and wait for their criminal record check.

The inquiry officer also opposed to granting them bail, claiming that they have “committed an offense” together with activist Tantawan Tuatulanon, and that they are likely to tamper with evidence or cause other damage, but did not say what exactly they meant by such actions.

The South Bangkok Criminal Court granted them bail on a security of 200,000 baht each and set the conditions that they do not repeat their offense in a manner that could damage the monarchy, join activities which can cause public disorder, or post on social media invitations to people to join protests. They must also wear electronic monitoring bracelets.

Worawet, Nui, and two other activists greeting them in front of the court are all required to wear an electornic monitoring bracelet (Photo by Ginger Cat)

The 7 activists who conducted the poll, one of whom is 14 years old, have also been charged with royal defamation, sedition, and resisting arrest. TLHR said that, despite reporting to the police after receiving a summons, they were taken to court for a temporary detention request and were later released on bail.

The activists were set the conditions that they must not engage in activities which damage the monarchy, or post on social media invitations to people to participate in protests or activities that cause public disorder. They must also wear electronic monitoring bracelets and are not allowed to leave the country without court permission.

TLHR reported yesterday (22 March) that the police have filed a request with the court to revoke the bail for Baipor and Netiporn, two activists charged for the royal motorcade poll, but it is unclear what they are using as grounds for bail revocation. Their bail hearing has been scheduled for 19 April 2022.

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