[Thailand] Journalist faces a possible 14-year jail term

 

Thai police filed on 8 August 2017 sedition charges against journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk for Facebook posts critical of the government. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years of imprisonment.

Pravit reported to the police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday and was informed of the two counts against him. According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), which represents the journalist, the first case has to do with Facebook posts in February 2016 criticizing the junta-proposed draft constitution and the legitimacy of the government under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The second charge relates to five unspecified posts.

Pravit is due to report to the police on August 18.  This time, to hear his charges under the Computer-related Crimes Act.

The Office of the Attorney General will decide if these cases move to trial.

Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) executive director Edgardo Legaspi condemned the filing of charges against Pravit saying that these are unjustified: “Pravit’s posts are well within his right to express his opinion as a journalist and as a Thai citizen to criticize the government.”

Moreover, “the charges encourage further self-censorship among the Thai journalist community.” SEAPA urged the authorities to drop the charges against Pravit.

Pravit is the third person charged with sedition for Facebook posts on politics. Two former government officials were charged earlier for expressing support for coup-ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Pravit is a senior staff writer at Khaosod English. His opinion pieces and social media posts have led to two instances of “attitude adjustment” and arbitrary detentions in 2014 and 2015. Pravit is a recipient of this year’s International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).