Live-streaming citizen journalist charged with contempt of court

A citizen journalist has been charged with contempt of court for live streaming from the South Bangkok Criminal Court after lawyers filed the 7th bail request for monarchy reform activists Nutthanit and Netiporn.

Paradorn Ketphualk live-streaming from the gates of the South Bangkok Criminal Court (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on Monday (18 July), the Director of the South Bangkok Criminal Court filed a contempt of court charge against Paradorn Ketphuak, 55, a citizen journalist who runs the Facebook page “Uncle Dorn Ketphuak” and often live streams from protests and from various Bangkok courts when activists are ordered to court. The charge is based on the live streaming from the gates of the South Bangkok Criminal Court when monarchy reform activists Nutthanit and Netiporn were taken to court for a witness examination hearing and while the activists’ lawyers were waiting for the results of another bail request.

Reporters and members of the public were reported to have gathered at the court at the witness examination hearing of Nutthanit and Netiporn, who are held in pre-trial detention on royal defamation charges for conducting a public poll on royal motorcades in February 2022. The two activists have been on a hunger strike for the past 48 days to demand the right to bail. They were taken from the court to nearby Lerdsin Hospital on medical advice after they collapsed during the hearing due to severe stomach pains and fatigue, leading to their lawyers’ decision to filed another urgent bail request so that they can receive medical attention. Their bail request was subsequently denied.

TLHR said that Paradorn, who runs a Facebook page with over 6000 followers and a YouTube channel with over 9000 followers, was live streaming in front of the court for around 15 minutes in the morning. He halted the live stream to observe the hearing. He started live streaming again in the afternoon for another 18 minutes while waiting for the result of the two activists’ bail request.

At around 16.00, the Director of the South Bangkok Criminal Court informed Paradorn that a contempt of court charge had been filed against him. A judge later summoned him and a lawyer into a courtroom for a preliminary hearing.

The Director told the judge that he was told by a security guard that Paradorn was live streaming on the steps of the court building, which is a violation of the court’s security regulations. Paradorn denied all accusations and said that he was not aware that live streaming contravened court regulations. He has live streamed from this court and other courts many times and did not receive any warnings from police officers or security guards. He also said that there was no sign stating court regulations on live streaming in the area.

Paradorn was released without bail. He will have to attend another hearing on 17 October 2022.


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