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article image‘Cyber Insult’: US citizen arrested for insulting Thai King

By Joseph Zulu     May 29, 2011 in Politics
Bangkok - A US citizen was arrested by Thai Police and charged with defaming the monarchy for an offense he committed four years ago after posting a link to a banned book.
Lerpong Wichaikhammat, 54 had posted link on his blog in 2007 on the banned book, “The King Never Smiles”.
Insulting the Monarchy in Thailand is punishable up to 15 years in prison and is referred to as “Lese Majeste”.
Wichaikhmmat, also known as Joe Gordon in the United States is said to have committed the offense about four years ago whilst living in America where he spent 30 years.
According to the Voice of America, a biography of the 83 year old King Bhumibol Adulvadej is considered critical of the Thai Royal family and is banned.
Gordon is also charged with violating Thailand’s computer crimes act for posting the link online and was arrested on Tuesday.
The US embassy in Bangkok is reported to be following the case closely and a consular official is reported to have visited Gordon on Friday.
The Voice of America reported that rights groups and academics have criticized the increased use of the law, “Lese Majeste” to silence critics and politicians.
Authorities in Thailand however argue that that the strict laws are necessary to protect the revered monarchy from slanderous attack and to ensure national security.
Gordon is reported to have denied the chargeclus leveled against him and has been denied bail and was also charged with inciting public unrest, the Hindu reported.
Gordon was arrested in the north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima and he was being held in a Bangkok prison after a Thai court denied him bail.
Police are said to have arrested Gordon at his home and seized a computer and cell phone.
The Seattle Times reported that Gordon is also suspected of having translated portions of the banned book, “The King Never Smiles” from English to Thai.
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