Thai webmaster charged for violating Computer-Related Crime Act

After a year of investigations, Thai public prosecutors on 31 March 2010 filed a criminal lawsuit against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director and webmaster of Thailand's independent online news website Prachatai.com, for allegedly failing to remove from the site's discussion board readers' comments deemed offensive to the monarchy.

According to the "Bangkok Post", Ms. Chiranuch was later detained at the ground floor of the Criminal Court for about four hours before being released on bail. Bail was set at THB 300,000 (around US$9,200), but the Prachatai executive director was eventually released on personal guarantee posted by her sister, who is a government official.

Chiranuch was first arrested on 6 March 2009 on strength of charges under the 2007 Computer-Related Crimes Act. About a month later, on 7 April 2009, an additional nine charges were brought against her on the same account, each charge corresponding to nine comments posted on the newspaper's website between April and June 2008.

The total of 10 charges proceeded despite the fact that all comments were eventually taken down by Prachatai upon the request of Thai police. As Prachatai is one of the most popular independent news, commentary, and discussion online platforms in Thailand, and receives numerous comments daily, Ms. Chiranuch maintains that she was not aware of the controversial comments until she was notified.

Observers of Prachatai also note that the website was known to be pragmatic and cooperative with officials in the past, especially when it comes to items that could potentially be considered lese majeste (insulting to the monarchy), or in violation of the Computer-Related Crimes Act (which critics contend is but another layer to the same lese majeste laws.)

If convicted, Chiranuch may be meted up to 50 years imprisonment under the Computer Crimes Act.

The Criminal Court has set 31 May 2010 for the first hearing on her case.

The charges brought against her based on Article 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer-Related Crimes Act as well as Article 91 of Criminal Code and Article 4 of the 1983 amendment Act (Sixth Issue)  to the Penal Code.

Thailand's Computer-Related Crimes Act was introduced in 2007 under the post-coup government of General Surayudh Chulanont. Observers and critics say that the law was designed to deal with bloggers and websites that spoke against the coup and implicated the role of the monarchy in the political battle between opponents and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. One blogger, Suvicha Thakor, was convicted under the law and sentenced to a 20-year prison term in April 2009. He has applied for a royal clemency and is waiting for the result.

At least six other people are facing similar charges but police have yet to arraign them. As director and webmaster of Prachatai.com, Ms. Chiranuch is the most prominent personality to be prosecuted under the controversial Computer Crimes Act.

Comments

This is political

This is political persecution, simple and straightforward. The present Thai regime wants total control of the media, it wants them all "on message"... as all of them are, except Prachatai.

Abhisit is a disgrace. Things can only get worse as long as the present regime wields the levers of power.

I, for one, wish the Red Shirts godspeed. They are Thailand's only hope. All others have buckled and collapsed under the terrorist intimidation of the Democrat/Military/PAD putsch.

And it's the meat, not the "wonder" bread in that sandwich, that's causing the food poisoning and resultant ท้องเสีย.
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John francis lee, you are

John francis lee, you are wrong. You don't need to attack Aphisit or any goverment for this issue. It has been a culture and rule of laws for many many years(before you and I were born) on this issue and it is applied to everyone and even during the Taksin Admin. Prachatai is still running and you can still post your commnets, aren't you? So why so quick to attack and make it souns like this thing had just happened.

Don't forget that during the Taksin admin, all your comments would be cencered before being posted on any webboard, specially when the comments were to criticize him and his policies.

I, on the other hand, see Taksin and REDs whose the one who act like the terrorists. Taksin already compared himself to Osama Bin Laden for being able to tell RED people to follow his orders from anywhere in the world.

It has been a culture and

It has been a culture and rule of laws for many many years (before you and I were born) on this issue and it is applied to everyone and even during the Taksin Admin.

I presume that "it" is lèse–majesté prosecution. It looks like a smokescreen to me. It is not applied to everyone. A cadre of operatives, like Akbar Khan and his partner in the police department, use lèse–majesté charges to intimidate and silence the political opposition. It does seem to happen under all Thai governments, a "tribute" to how useful a tool it is to the authoritarian state.

Prachatai is still running and you can still post your comments, aren't you? So why so quick to attack and make it sound like this thing had just happened.

Prachatai is still running, but a clear attempt has been made to intimidate its editors, to elevate the level of self-censorship they must impose, and to curtail criticism of The Regime in general. These are police state tactics whether undertaken by a regime nominally headed by Abhisit, one headed by Thaksin, or any otner.

Don't forget that during the Taksin admin, all your comments would be cencered before being posted on any webboard, specially when the comments were to criticize him and his policies.

Thaksin was wrong on almost all counts, according to me. The Nation's editors used gleefully to publish my letters lambasting Thaksin.

But nothing Thaksin did or did not do in any way "justifies" what this regime is doing right here and right now. This is an argument often used, by the Israelis and the American Neocons for instance, to draw attention away from themselves and their acts by citing acts, presumably more heinous, of others "in their defense". It is utterly bogus.

I, on the other hand, see Taksin and REDs whose the one who act like the terrorists...

I see no evidence of "terror" at all from the Reds and Taksin is out of power and out of the country. I attribute such terror as has taken place over the past few weeks, grenade blasts at this or that government installation, to the people with the grenades : the Thai Military. The Thai Military has a long history of terrorist acts against the Thai people.

Taksin already compared himself to Osama Bin Laden... I missed that comparison. I am uninterested in Taksin. I am interested in democracy in Thailand, and so I am interested in the Red Shirts, at present democracy's only standard bearers in this wonderful Kingdom.

Well said, JFL! I absolutely

Well said, JFL! I absolutely agree with everything you've said. All of it. This is completely beyond the pale.