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Thailand: Nine new charges against Prachatai webmaster

Categories: Thailand, Advocacy, Legal Threats
chiranuch premchaiporn

FACT [1] charges conspiracy against Prachatai and online freedom

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Thai online news portal Prachatai [2], was arrested [3] on March 6 under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act [4].

Her charges resulted from allowing comments posted by readers [5] of Prachatai’s online discussion fora alleged to be lèse majesté.

On April 7, Chiranuch was called to Royal Thai Police headquarters for further investigation. She was accompanied by Prachatai director Chuwat Rerksirisuk and her two lawyers. Thai police laid nine new charges against Chiranuch resulting from the information she herself gave them after her arrest.

Police claim the alleged illegal postings were allowed to remain on Prachatai fora for periods of one to fifteen days. Police consider each posting to be a separate violation of the computer law even though these were removed promptly after notification by Thailand’s ICT ministry.

None of the webboard posters have been arrested. FACT considers extra charges were laid against Chiranuch for two reasons. Firstly, police waited so long that the original forum postings had been deleted from Prachatai. Therefore they could not locate the actual posters by IP address. Secondly, they had such success in securing a draconian 20-year sentence against blogger Suwicha Thakhor on April 3.

Additional charges under the cybercrime law mean that Chiranuch is facing 50 years in prison for comments she did not create. Chiranuch is facing 50 years for not self-censoring webboard posts fast enough for government censors.

Police also told Chiranuch that six more persons will be charged later this month under the computer act.

Thai government is engaged in a political conspiracy to silence independent news and free expression. Government thinks they can silence freedom activists.

If we allow Chiranuch to go undefended by our words and actions, all of us face prison for free speech. How is Thailand different from Burma?

FACT [1] demands all charges against Chiranuch Premchaiporn be withdrawn! Free media, free Thailand!