Police investigate lese majeste complaint against journalist

(25 May, Bangkok) A police investigator has begun inquiring into lese majeste complaints filed against journalist for his Thai language articles contributed to Prachatai, an online alternative news website.

These articles were contributed to Prachatai by Mr Pravit Rojanaphruk, who also a senior reporter at The Nation, one of Thailand’s two English-language national newspapers.

Pravit has been writing consistently both in The Nation and Prachatai about human rights and freedom of expression issues, including on the lese majeste.

According to a 24 May news story at Prachatai, Police Lieutenant Matee Sriwana sent an email on 16 May 2012 to Prachatai inquiring about complaints filed on seven Thai-language articles submitted by Pravit for allegedly containing lese majeste content.

Aside from inquiring about the articles, the investigator from the Roi Et police station in northeastern Thailand, also asked Prachatai to delete the articles.

Thailand’s anti-lese majeste laws are contained in Article 112 of the Penal Code, prohibiting defamation, insults or threats to the king, queen, heir apparent or regent. Lese majeste violators may be convicted for three to 15-year jail terms for each count.

It is not known at this point whether actual charges will be filed against Pravit about this complaint.

The complaint was filed on 28 December 2011 by Mr Wiput Suprasert, a yellow-shirt activist also from Roi Et province.

Wiput has also been responsible for filing similar lese majeste complaints against 15 Prachatai contributors.  He was an active commenter at Prachatai, posting under the name “I Pad”, and claims to have been a guard at the rallies of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The cases Wiput filed include that against Prachatai executive director Ms Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who is accused of violations of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) for allowing and failing to delete on time lese majeste content on the Prachatai online forums.

She is alleged to have violated section 15 of the CCA, which places responsibility on service providers for monitoring and allowing illegal content listed in CCA section 14.

The verdict on the Chiranuch case is expected to be handed down on 30 May 2012.

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