Update- Warning to Tourists Visiting Thailand Regarding Lese Majeste

Please read the following by Richard Barrow (click here for link) and make sure you observe the laws during your visit to Thailand:

Foreign Tourists in Thailand warned they could be arrested for lese majeste
November 30, 2011
Richard Barrow

UPDATE 28th August 2012: A Saudi man has been sentenced to two years in a Thai prison for spreading rumours online that the Thai Queen has died .

Original Story: Facebook users who “share” or “like” content that insults the Thai monarchy are committing a crime, Minister of ICT Anudith Nakornthap said this week. Even repeating the details of an alleged offense, such as on social media sites like Facebook, is illegal under the lese majeste law and the related Computer Crimes Act which says that spreading illegal content, either directly or indirectly, is a crime.

On 8th December, the criminal court will deliver the sentence of Joe Gordon, a Thai-born American who has been held since May for translating excerpts of a locally banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and posting them online. Gordon pleaded guilty to the alleged crimes committed years ago while living in the U.S. state of Colorado. The case has raised concerns about the reach of Thai law and how it is applied to both Thai nationals and foreign visitors.

“Anyone who is accused can be prosecuted, even foreigners using the Internet outside of Thailand”, said Anudith. “If a foreigner abroad clicks ‘share’ or clicks ‘like,’ then the Thai law has no jurisdiction over that, but if there is a lawsuit filed and that person then comes into Thailand for a holiday, then that person will be prosecuted.”

Critics worry that Web users may not know they are committing crimes. “You have to understand that once you click ‘like’ on your wall, it will show up in your friends’ feeds that you clicked ‘like.’ It can be considered as indirectly publishing that page,” said Chiranuch Premchaiporn, executive director of independent news website Prachatai.com who faces 20 years in prison herself for failing to remove allegedly offensive online reader comments quickly enough.

Lese majeste arrests and convictions in Thailand have spike in recent years causing website owners and Facebook user to practice self-censorship in fear of being accused of being anti-monarchy. Last Wednesday, Thailand’s criminal court sentenced Amphon Tangnoppakul, a 61-year-old grandfather, to 20 years in prison for sending four mobile phone text messages to a personal secretary of then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that were deemed offensive to the queen. He denied the charge.

UPDATES: Amphon Tangnoppakul died in prison on 8 May 2012. Joe Gordon was sentenced to two and a half years but received a pardon in July 2012.

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About faranginbangkok

Additional pictures: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/faranginbangkok For more updates about Bangkok, Thailand and other thoughts: www.twitter.com/lilrichardb I began working in Bangkok during 2008- a time that featured a great deal of political unrest in Thailand and particularly Bangkok. I had lived in San Francisco for 15 years and was working on a project in Thailand. Generally I spent 2 weeks in Bangkok and then 3-4 weeks in San Francisco. Did Bangkok begin to feel like home? Yes, and No. Bangkok and the Thai culture forced me to feel many things, the change in culture and environment was so dramatic it forced the decision- embrace or ignore. I embraced and made Bangkok my home and base in 2009. I have enjoyed living in Bangkok, experiencing Thailand and the entire ASEAN region.
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