Cover photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
A 57-year-old man has been arrested under the Computer-Related Crime Act for messages criticizing the political situation following the 2014 coup.
On 19 September 2023, Wichit (pseudonym) was apprehended by officers from the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) and Provincial Police Region 4 in Khon Kaen Province on an arrest warrant issued by the criminal court.
He was initially taken to the Investigation Division and subsequently transferred to the CCIB for notification of the charge under the Computer-Related Crime Act and to provide testimony, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
Wichit remained in custody at the CCIB overnight before further proceedings.
Wichit was charged with the offence of importing into a computer system forged computer data which is likely to cause damage to national security or cause panic among the public, under Section 14 (2) of the Computer-Related Crime Act. Wichit denied the allegation.
On 20 September, the inquiry officer officially notified Wichit of the charge which was filed by Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna, a prominent vigilante monarchist. Wichit posted ten messages on Facebook between 24 October 2014 and 20 June 2015. The content of the posts dealt with political matters during the post-coup period and some of them referred to the monarchy.
Wichit insisted on denying the allegation and will provide additional testimony in writing within 30 days. He was subsequently jailed on 21 September.
On the same day, the court granted bail of 90,000 baht with the conditions that he must not engage in the alleged activities and must not participate in activities that may cause chaos.
Wichit was required to present himself in court on 8 November.
In this case, Wichit had never received a summons and was surprised and unprepared when he was apprehended, since the posts were made almost ten years ago.
Wichit said when it comes to politics, he simply wants to give criticism because of his love for the country. He could not tolerate the way those in power treated the people.
He has concerns regarding his situation. He is the breadwinner of his family, and his children are currently studying in secondary school and university. In addition, he is concerned about his religious construction work, which is a specialized field. He said there are several temples awaiting construction. If he is imprisoned, he would not be able to utilize his expertise for the benefit of Buddhism.