Kanruethai Klaion (Photo from TLHR)

Facebook user charged with royal defamation over posts from 2022

A Facebook user has been charged with royal defamation over 2 posts from 2022 after an ultra-royalist group’s leader file a complaint against her claiming the posts defame and make fun of the King.

Kanruethai Klaion, 32, reported to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) last Friday (16 February) to hear charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer-Related Crime Act. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that the complaint against Kanruethai was filed by Anon Klinkaew, leader of the ultra-royalist People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, over two Facebook posts from July and September 2022.

 

Anon has repeatedly filed royal defamation complaints against monarchy reform advocates, including Thanalop Phalanchai, who was 14 years old when the complaint against her was filed. He also posted a video clip threatening to kill her.

 

In October 2023, Anon and other members of the People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy attacked a group of activists protesting in front of the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court to demand the release of political prisoners and reporters covering the protest. He was also among the members of ultra-royalist groups which attacked a group of activists and citizen journalists during a gathering on 10 February.

 

According to an inquiry officer, Anon complained to the police that one post contains a photo of King Vajiralongkorn and a caption that was defamatory, while another contains a message that made fun of the King.

 

This is Kanruethai’s second count of royal defamation. She was previously charged in February 2022 for 8 Facebook posts from between February and April 2022. TLHR noted that before she was charged, Special Branch Police officers visited Kanruethai at her apartment on 8 April 2021. She told TLHR she was tricked into leaving her apartment when a woman knocked on her door and told her that she had ran into Kanruethai’s car with her car. However, when Kanruethai went to the car park to check the two vehicles, she found no damage. As she was leaving to return to her room, she was surrounded by the officers, who showed her pictures of posts from her personal Facebook profile.

 

The officers claimed that the posts constituted an offense under the royal defamation law and the Computer-Related Crime Act, and told her they would take her to Lat Phrao Police Station to negotiate with her not to post such material again and to close her Facebook account.

 

Kanruethai refused to go to the police station because the officers did not present a warrant or their police IDs. The men told her that they would carry her to the police station if she refused.

 

The officers eventually allowed Kanruethai to drive herself to the police station. However, when they arrived and found that a group of protesters and reporters were already waiting, they told Kanruethai that they would no longer have a conversation and to wait for an arrest warrant. Officers at the police station said they did not know about the operation, so Kanruethai asked them to make a report of her being harassed. She also filed a complaint against the officers for abuse of power and malfeasance.

 

 

On 1 July 2022, 6 plainclothes officers claiming to be from Lat Phrao Police Station searched Kanruethai’s apartment on a warrant issued by the Criminal Court. They confiscated her laptop and mobile phone.

 

 

 

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