In September 2007, Chotisak Onsoong went to watch a movie and refused to stand up for the Royal Anthem played in the beginning. This caused an argument between him and another citizen, who later complaint to the police that Chotisak’s act was an insult to the King.
Later in April 2008, the police filed a lèse-majesté charge against Chotisak. He gave an interview to Prachatai online newspaper, of which Chiranuch Premchaiporn is a director. The interview was published online and received huge attention. Over 200 comments on the interview were posted within a week after.
On April 28, 2008, Sunimit Chirasuk, a Khon Kaen citizen, lodged a complaint at Khon Kaen provincial police station against Prachatai that several comments on that interview were a defamation to the Monarchy. An arrest warrant for Chiranuch was issued on September 8, 2009, but there has never been any summons received by Chiranuch until she got arrested on September 24, 2010, at Bangkok International Airport.
There has been a remark from the public that between the arrest warrant issuance and the day she got arrested, Chiranuch has traveled abroad for many times and has never shown any sign of fleeing from her other case.
The Criminal Code (1956):
Whoever, defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the
Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.
Whoever makes an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order:
1. To bring about a change in the Laws of the Country or the Government by the use of force or violence;
2. To raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country; or
3. To cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.
The Computer-Related Crime Act of Thailand (2007):
Any person who commits an offence by any of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both:
(1) that involves import into a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to a third party or the public;
(2) that involves import into a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country’s security or cause public panic;
(3) that involves import into a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code;
(4) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data of a pornographic nature that is publicly accessible;
(5) that involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data already known to be computer data under (1) (2) (3) or (4);
Any service provider intentionally supporting or consenting to an offence under Section 14 within a computer system under their control shall be subject to the same penalty as that imposed upon a person committing an offence under Section 14.
At 14.00 September 24, 2010, Chiranuch and her colleague, Arthit Suriyawongkul, arrived at Bangkok International Airport after attending the Internet at Liberty 2010 conference in Budapest, Hundary. She was stopped at the immigration checkpoint and was shown an arrest warrant.
Chiranuch then contacted her lawyer. The police informed her that she had to report at Khon Kaen provincial police station where the warrant was issued. Her lawyer called the police station about the bail, which was revealed to be 200,000 Baht (approx. 6,500 US Dollars). At 17.30 the immigration police officers escorted her (and Arthit as a company) to Nakhon Ratchasima to hand her to Khon Kaen police.
Chiranuch arrived at the police station at 23.30. Her lawyer accompanying with her colleagues at Prachatai arrived later at midnight. She was finally bailed out at 1.00. The interrogation continued until 2.30. Everyone immediately headed back to Bangkok.
According to the arrest warrant, Chiranuch is charged for:
* Defaming, insulting or threatening the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent
* Making an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order to raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country; or to cause the people to transgress the laws of the Country
* Importing into a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code
* Intentionally supporting or consenting to a computer-related offence within a computer system under own control
The approximate penalty, if all the charges are used by public prosecutor, can be up to 15 years in prison from lèse majesté as the most severe charge. Moreover, these charges can be taken separately and multiplied by the number of comments that are considered offensive to up to 50 years.
April 28, 2008 - Sunimit Chirasuk lodged a complaint against Prachatai at Khon Kaen provincial police station
September 8, 2009 - An arrest warrant was issued by Khon Kaen court.
September 24, 2010 - Chiranuch was arrested and was bailed out at 1.00 September 25, 2010.
From now on, Chiranuch has to report to Khon Kaen provincial police station once a month until the case is either dismissed or filed to the public prosecutor.
Reactions on the Internet
Soon after the arrest, internet users started to promote her cause in Twitter using a tag “#freejiew”#. A blog was created to aggregate all related materials#. Prachatai and foreign media constantly reported on the issue and human rights organisations put up statements and petitions to support the cause.
After details about the bail spread, Digital Democracy set up a platform for people to donate for the bail money#.
Thai Netizen Network has notably published interviews of concerned individuals, including her lawyer, and observation from the case#. It is one of a few local groups to speak up about this case.