News

April 2, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Website editor facing 50 years in jail


Reporters Without Borders calls for the withdrawal of all charges against journalist Chiranuch Premchaipoen, the editor of Prachatai.com website, who is facing up to 50 years in prison under the computer crimes for failing to remove comments from her site with sufficient speed. Posted by visitors, the comments are deemed to have insulted the monarchy. Arrested and charged on 31 March, Chiranuch was released after three hours when her sister stood guarantee for the 300,000 bahts (6,000 euros) in bail demanded by the judicial authorities. “Once again, the lèse majesté and computer crimes laws are being used politically to control and intimidate people with dissenting views,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Amid the current political tension, the Thai public has greater need than ever to receive the kind of objective and quality news that Prachatai.com provides.” The press freedom organisation added: “The charges brought against Chiranuch constitute a serious violation of free expression. They are not in accordance with the promises the authorities gave last January to combat abuses of the lèse majesté law.” Chiranuch’s trial is due to start on 31 May. She has been charged before a criminal court under articles 14 and 15 of the computer crimes act. The charges concern comments posted on the website in 2008, which Chiranuch removed quickly as soon as they were brought to her attention. Reporters Without Borders also calls on the government to explain yesterday’s arrest of Tantawut Taweewarodomkul, the webmaster of two websites (www.norporchorusa.com and http://www.norporchorusa2.com/) that support the “Red Shirts” opposition movement. He is also accused of violating the lèse majesté and computer crimes laws. Around 10 bloggers have been prosecuted or charged under the lèse majesté law. One of them, Suvicha Thakor, is serving a 10-year jail sentence for allegedly posting content considered offensive to the king. Thailand is on the list of “Countries under surveillance” in the report on “Enemies of the Internet” which Reporters Without Borders issued on 11 March. The report noted that in the absence of improvements in the near future, Thailand risked being moved from the “Countries under surveillance” to the “Enemies of the Internet” list.