A 27-year-old man from Bangkok is facing a royal defamation complaint filed against him with the police in Songkhla over a tweet from 2021.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Nattapon (last name withheld), 27, was accused of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for a tweet from 2021 containing pictures of King Vajiralongkorn when he was the Crown Prince with a woman, along with the caption “I heard about it when I was a kid. A teacher gossiped about it. It turned out to be true.”
The complaint was filed by Songchai Niamhom, leader of the ultra-royalist King Protection Group, who claimed that the tweet insults the King, might cause him to be hated, and is a violation of national security because it could cause misunderstandings and public unrest.
Songchai has filed complaints at various locations in Southern Thailand against several people. As some of the defendants do not live where the complaints have been filed, they have to travel long distances for police appointments and court hearings. In May 2023, Songchai made a royal defamation charge against Thiramet (last name withheld), an intellectually disabled 19-year-old, at Thalenoi Police Station in Phattalung. Thiramet lives in Bangkok and because of his disability was not able to travel to Phattalung. TLHR eventually filed a petition requesting that an inquiry officer in Phatthalung be ordered to come to Bangkok instead.
Of the 277 royal defamation cases filed since November 2020, 134 were filed by members of the public. TLHR noted that many of those who file the complaints were members of ultra royalist groups.
The complaint against Nattapon was filed at Kho Hong Police Station in Hat Yai, Songkhla. TLHR said that Nattapon first received a summons in May 2023. He filed a request for the inquiry officer to come to a police station in Bangkok, where he lives, to interview him. On 9 June, an officer from Songkhla came to interview Nattapon in Bangkok but he later received another summons in early August to go to Songkhla to hear his charges.
Nattapon reported to the police on Wednesday (23 August). TLHR said that Pol Col Suwaroj Lunhawittayanon, deputy commander of the Songkhla police, and other inquiry officers were in the interrogation room and that the interview was recorded on video. Observers from Law Long Beach, a local group of activists and human rights lawyers, were reportedly told by police to leave the room because “there was not enough space.”