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Thailand 14 January 2009

Another Internet user arrested for lese majeste as Internet regulation dialogue gets under way

Reporters Without Borders deplores today’s arrest of Internet user Suwicha Thakhor on a charge of insulting the monarchy (lese majeste), just one day after Thai Netizen Network, a group that defends online freedom of expression, met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and suggested ways to reach a compromise on Internet regulation, including the issue of lese majeste.

“This arrest gives the government the opportunity to demonstrate its readiness to maintain a real dialogue by keeping a close watch on the conduct of the investigation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the government to do everything possible to ensure that Thakhor is released as soon as the authorities establish that he has not done anything that violates democratic norms.”

The Department of Special Investigations said Thakhor was arrested because his computer’s Internet address matched the address from which comments about the king and his aides had been sent. He was picked up by the police while visiting friends in the provinces. The authorities say they suspect he knew the police were after him and that he left the capital for this reason.

Thakhor, who is being held at Department of Special Investigations headquarters in Bangkok, has denied the charges.

(PNG)
Thai Netizen Network

Supinya Klangnarong, the coordinator of Thai Netizen Network and a media advocate, spoke to Reporters Without Borders after yesterday’s meeting with the prime minister. "During this meeting, we were able to express our views and concerns," she said. "Meeting with the PM is the first step to beginning negotiations aimed at seeking appropriate regulation that will uphold cyber-liberty in Thailand."

Political science professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn yesterday called for a national and international campaign to demand the abolition of the crime of lese majeste. On 11 January, Ungpakorn was ordered to report to a Bangkok police station on 20 January to be charged under the lese majeste law in connection with his book “A Coup for the Rich,” which can be downloaded at no cost from his blog, http://www.wdpress.blog.co.uk.

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the withdrawal of the charges against him.

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In this country
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Internet censorship to be followed by censorship of radio and TV
29 April - Thailand
Reporters Without Borders and 31 other organisations urge Thai government to amend lese majeste law
27 April - Thaïland
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