Nattakan Jaiaree (Photo from TLHR)

Activist detained for royal defamation, denied bail

A 37-year-old activist arrested last Monday (6 November) on a royal defamation charge filed against him over a number of Facebook posts has been denied bail and is now detained in a prison in Phatthalung.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Nattakan Jaiaree, 37, a political activist and motorcycle taxi driver, was arrested last Monday (6 November) at his home in Bangkok’s Taling Chan District. He was detained overnight at Taling Chan Police Station before being handed over to Phatthalung police.

Nattakan said the police immediately confiscated his phone after showing him his arrest warrant and would not give it back even though he said he has the right to call a lawyer and a trusted person. He noted that several police officers took turn speaking to him and showing him pictures of several Facebook posts, and they tried to get his signature to certify that the posts were his. The police then made him give them the passcode to his phone, claiming they wanted to check his Facebook account. However, he was not aware what was done to his phone. When the device was returned to him several hours later, he called TLHR for assistance.

According to TLHR, the police in Phatthalung said they issued two summonses for Nattakan, but he did not respond. However, Nattakan said he has never received a summons, probably because it was sent to his registered address, but he now lives at another address, which is a rental in Bangkok.

The complaint against Nattakan was filed by Songchai Niamhom, leader of the ultra-royalist King Protection Group. Songchai has filed royal defamation complaints with the police in Phatthalung and Songkhla against several people over social media posts, including former Move Forward Party MP Amarat Chokepamitkul, a 27-year-old named Nattapon, an intellectually disabled 19-year-old protester named Thiramet, and rapper Kitti Ruangphunglhuang, also known as P9D.

He was also among the group of ultra-royalists which filed a royal defamation complaint against Pita Limjaroenrat, then Move Forward Party’s leader and Prime Minister candidate, over a May 2023 interview with BBC.

On Thursday (9 November), the police took Nattakan to court for a temporary detention request. The Phatthalung Provincial Court ordered him detained for 12 days and refused him bail on the grounds that the charges carry a severe penalty, he has no permanent residence, and because he is likely to repeat his offense. He is now detained at Phatthalung Prison.

The court denied him bail despite his lawyers filing a request stating that Nattakan did not receive the summonses because he is renting a house closer to his place of work, and that he did not resist when he was arrested. They also said that he is willing to attend all police appointments and is not a flight risk.

Nattakan’s detention brought the number of people detained pending trial or appeal on royal defamation charges to 15.

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