Same Sky Books editor arrested for releasing national secret

Thanapol Eawsakul, editor-in-chief of the political academic publisher Same Sky Books, was arrested on Wednesday evening (29 June) on charges of procuring and sharing national secrets and violation of the Computer Crimes Act.

TCSD officers came to the Same Sky Books office and presented an arrest warrant for Thanapol (Picture from TLHR)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) came to the Same Sky Books office at 16.15 and presented an arrest warrant for Thanapol. He was then taken to the TCSD headquarters without waiting for his lawyers to arrive.

The arrest warrant, which was posted on TLHR’s Twitter account, states that Thanapol is charged with procuring information, documents or anything kept secret for reasons of national security, sharing this information or document with others, or preparing to commit the aforementioned offense under Sections 123, 124, and 128 of the Criminal Code. He is also charged with importing into a computer system data which is an offense against national security under the Computer Crimes Act.

TLHR said that the charges are related to a post Thanapol made on his personal Facebook page, in which he speculated that Special Branch police might be investigating diplomat Russ Jalichandra, former Thai ambassador to Mozmbique and Kazakhstan and owner of the Facebook page “The Alternative Ambassador.”

In the post, Thanapol shared a page from what he said was a “very secret document” signed by National Security Council Secretary-General Gen Natthapon Nakpanich and dated 11 November 2020 ordering Special Branch police to investigate a retired diplomat who was using his position to publish negative information about the government, which Thanapol assumed to be Russ.

The same document also ordered the Special Branch to secretly coordinate with provincial governors to organize events in their provinces to show loyalty to the monarchy between 23 – 27 November 2020, and to find a way to prevent people from coming to Bangkok to join mass demonstrations and prevent demonstrations from taking place in the provinces. It also ordered intelligence units to follow the movement of protest leaders between 23 – 27 November 2020.

The police claimed that the document was classified and belonged to an agency responsible for national security and was being kept secret for security reasons, and filed charges against Thanapol.

According to TLHR, Thanapol previously received a summons from the TCSD on these charges in April, and asked to postpone his meeting with the inquiry officer for 60 days. He was going to report to the police to hear his charges on 28 June, but had to attend court in another case, so he moved his appointment to 4 July. However, on 28 June, the TCSD got an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court.

Thanapol was later granted bail and released, but has to report to the police every 15 days. The inquiry officer originally set his security at 100,000 baht, but Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome used his MP position to instead post bail for Thanapol.

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