Thailand lese majeste man jailed for 20 years

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, pictured in Jakarta on 7 May 2011 The texts were sent to an aide of Abhisit Vejjajiva

Related Stories

A man who sent text messages deemed insulting to Thailand's monarchy has been jailed for 20 years.

Ampon Tangnoppakul, 61, was convicted of sending four messages last year to an official working for then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He was charged under the Computer Crimes Act and lese majeste law, which is designed to protect the monarchy.

Critics say both laws have been increasingly politicised and are curbing free speech in Thailand.

Ampon was not in court to hear the sentence delivered because recent floods, which have caused widespread disruption in Thailand, stopped him from travelling from his remand prison.

Instead he watched his conviction by video link.

Ampon was convicted of sending the text messages during anti-government street protests that convulsed the capital last year.

He was jailed for five years for each message.

Foreigners convicted

Thailand's criminal code defines lese majeste as defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent.

Offenders can receive 15 years in jail for each offence.

In recent years the law has been used far more frequently and far more widely than in the past.

There have been widespread allegations that the law is being misused to settles scores and silence debate rather than protect the monarchy.

Several foreigners have been convicted of the offence in recent years, but they are often quickly pardoned and deported from the country.

Some Thai academics and writers have fled the country for fear of being denounced.

In an ongoing high-profile case, the webmaster of a liberal news website is currently on trial accused of failing to remove allegedly offensive comments posted by readers quickly enough.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage


  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world


  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop


  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.