Lecturer indicted for royal defamation over Twitter post

A lecturer at Thammasat University has been indicted under the royal defamation law and the Computer-Related Crime Act after he was allegedly involved in a May 2021 Twitter post related to a rumour about the King. He was later granted bail with the condition that he is not allowed to travel abroad unless granted permission.

Yukti Mukdawijitra, a lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology, was charged under the two laws in 2021. The complaint against him was filed by Apiwat Kantong, then a lawyer in the Office of the Prime Minister in the administration of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. According to the police, the complaint stemmed from a post he made on Twitter (newly X) where he allegedly responded to a post by academic-in-exile Somsak Jeamteerasakul about a rumour that King Vajiralongkorn was seriously ill and had been admitted to hospital. Yukti’s post stated, “"If a rumor isn't true, then it becomes a curse,” which Apiwat considered as an insult and a threat against the King.

The indictment stated that on the day that the rumour was circulating on social media, Yukti was aware of it. His post allegedly led readers to understand that he targeted the King. It also showed the intention to curse the King and wish that he was sick or would die. The prosecutors also stated that the lecturer’s post could potentially tarnish the dignity and the reputation of the King.

The court ruled to indict him and on the same day granted bail with 200,000 baht as security with the condition that he is not allowed to travel abroad without the court’s permission.

The lecturer stated that his indictment was not unexpected since prosecution under the law was the policy of the former PM’s government. He said in his case, there should have been no legal action in the first place. Despite the new government, legal proceedings under this law still move forward. This shows that this government is not sincere in addressing the problems of this law. Yukti added that this political atmosphere will exacerbate the situation, and so he hoped for an amnesty that would include all political cases in order to resolve problems that have existed in society for a long time.

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