26-year-old detainee charged with royal defamation denied bail

Cover photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

A 26-year-old has been detained in prison since their arrest on 20 October on a royal defamation charge over messages on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter). The court has not yet granted bail.

On 9 November, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that the 26-year-old has been in custody at the Bangkok Remand Prison, without legal assistance, since 22 October. The person was later identified as Maggie (first and last name withheld), who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

The charges stem from 18 tweets between December 2022 and October 2023. Maggie was arrested on 20 October.

The police claim that Maggie admitted to being the owner of the account and allowed the police to check their mobile phone. At the time, it was found that there was an arrest warrant only related to a robbery case. Maggie revealed that the police had no arrest warrant for the royal defamation case.

The police confiscated the mobile phone, making it impossible for them to contact anyone. Subsequently, Maggie was taken to Thonglor Police Station to acknowledge the charges involving royal defamation and the Computer-Related Crime Act.

The arrest report revealed that the police tracked down a user who posted messages and distorted pictures in a way that defamed the monarchy.

Technical examination showed that the owner of the account is the accused. After the police concluded that Maggie had pictures or other evidence connected to the case, they requested authorization to conduct an investigation.

The report asserts that the arrest was carried out with proper authorization and without the necessity of obtaining a court-issued warrant, based on the police’s judgment of the urgency of the case. The report also states that the accused was informed their rights but chose not to contact relatives.

“I am concerned about my parents, about my family. I am afraid it might affect my family because I am facing a charge under Section 112. Normally, if I had the time, I participated in protests in 2020-2021. The police have said that they saw me at the protests. I am interested in politics, and I am one who has been affected by the government administration”, said Maggie.

 

Maggie was taken into custody at the Bangkok South Criminal Court on 22 October. The Court denied provisional release. Maggie has been detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison since then.

 

On 9 November, a bail request was filed with 100,000 baht as security.

 

The lawyer making the request stated that Maggie has a permanent residence and they have no prior criminal record, making them unlikely to pose any threats.

 

Being detained during the investigation causes significant hardship for Maggie, particularly their general well-being. Despite their different gender identity, Maggie was detained in the same prison as male detainees.

 

However, the court insisted on not granting bail, citing that there was no reason to change the initial order. This case adds to the current total of 37 people detained in political cases.

 

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