Reporters Without Borders is very worried about Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the head of the Thai news website Prachatai, whose trial in connection with comments posted on her site resumes today. Also known as Jiew, she is charged under articles 14 and 15 of the Computer Crimes Act.
“Chiranuch is the victim of arbitrary use of draconian laws, namely the Computer Crimes Act and Section 112 of the criminal code, on lèse-majesté,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The new prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and her government must prevent freedom of expression being curbed under the pretext of protecting the king’s image. We are waiting for a sign of a real political will to reform these repressive laws.
“We take note of Judge Kampot Rungrat’s pledge to use purely technical and legal criteria when trying this case, namely whether or not Chiranuch contributed to the comments posted on the site and whether or not she deliberately waited before deleting them. We urge the authorities to drop the charges against her without delay.”
Two police officers are due to testify for the prosecution when the trial resumes today before a Bangkok court after a six-month break. More prosecution witnesses are due to be heard on 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 20 and 21 September. Witnesses for the defence will testify on 11, 12, 13 and 14 October.
Chiranuch is facing a possible 20-year jail sentence for 10 comments damaging to the “royal court’s image” which were posted on her site from April to October 2010 and which, according to prosecutors, were not withdrawn quickly enough.
Each comment could potentially result in a five-year sentence, but the overall maximum is 20 years. Chiranuch’s lawyers insist that she cooperated with the authorities and deleted the offending comments as soon as possible.