21-year-old activist arrested for royal defamation over FB post

A 21-year-old activist has been arrested for royal defamation over a social media post of a picture of a man holding 2 pieces of paper with offensive messages in front of a picture of the King and Queen. He was later granted bail.

On 18 January, an activist ‘Bank’ Natthaphon (surname withheld), was arrested by police from Thung Song Hong Police Station for a Facebook post of a man in black wearing a crash helmet and holding 2 pieces of paper with offensive messages in front of a picture of the King and Queen. Another activist, ‘Ta’ Khathathon was also a suspect, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The complaint was filed by Anon Klinkaew, leader of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy.

Natthaphon stated that he was arrested in the middle of the night in front of his own home. While heading home, he was cut off by plainclothes police on a motorcycle. He said he was surrounded by 8-9 men. Some were disguised as homeless people in the area.

The police did not show him an arrest warrant, but instead read it to him briefly. He was taken to Samran Rat Police Station, where he was not able to contact anyone until after his arrest was recorded. Natthaphon was informed that he was charged under the royal defamation law and the Computer-Related Crime Act.

The arrest record claimed that he tried to flee. In fact, he was arrested at his own home and had not received a summons. Natthaphon refused the fingerprinting process and denied all allegations. As a result, he faced an additional charge of failing to follow an official’s order. He was detained overnight.

On 19 January, Natthaphon was taken to court for a detention hearing. On the same day, the court granted bail with 180,000 baht as security on the condition that he does not commit the same offence.

Natthaphon was previously prosecuted for royal defamation after being accused of burning a royal arch in front of the Ministry of Labour during a protest on 14 September 2021. That case is in the witness examination stage.

He was also prosecuted for setting fire to a police truck during a protest on 11 June 2022. In this case, he was detained twice: during the investigation and the trial. Initially, he was detained for eight months before being granted bail. After the court sentenced him to three years in prison, he was detained for two months before being granted bail on condition that he wear an Electronic Monitoring bracelet.

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