I always knew Thailand is far from a functional democracy, but I thought people can still say what they want. Apparently I was sooo wrong.
A retired truck driver was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending SMS that a court deemed insulting to Thailand’s monarchy. 61-year-old Ampon Tangnoppakul got 5 years in prison for each message sent, though he denied sending any messages. According to his lawyer, Ampon doesn’t know how to send SMS and his phone was being repaired around the time the messages were sent!
But that’s not all — as far as I’ve understood, messages that caused the “problem” for Ampon were sent to another individual! It’s not like he (or whoever sent messages) used Twitter to spread the word. “Best” of all, the contents of the messages were not revealed in court!
Ampon is not the only one prosecuted for insulting the Thai King. There’s a growing number of cases in the country under a law imposing harsh penalties for making insults or threats directed at royal family, even in PRIVATE communications.
This all sounds like it’s happening in North Korea, not Thailand. And yes – I’m NOT going to visit Bangkok anytime soon…