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A detained activist has been charged with defamation for distributing leaflets which called on senators to respect the people’s voice during the last prime ministerial vote.

Sophon “Get” Surariddhidhamrong, a detained activist from the Mok Luang Rim Nam group, faces a defamation charge filed by Senator Seree Suwanpanont. The charge is based on a 1 August 2023 activity when Sophon posted and distributed leaflets at a market owned the Senator, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

According to the police, Sophon, along with other activists, went to the Seree Market to stage the activity in question. They are also alleged to have bullied and intimidated people in the market, causing them to be ashamed. The complaint stated that the activists posted leaflets in many places at the market, even after being told by the police not to do so.

The leaflets carried the senator’s picture along with the caption “serve the dictator or follow the voice of people.” Below this was a quote from a speech given by the senator in 2019: “I like democratic authoritarian, but I do not like fake democracy. The activists further accused the senator of not bothering to go to parliament to vote the PM.

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the messages are false and designed to injure his reputation.

The police notified Sophon of three charges: defamation, causing property damage, and intimidating others. Sophon refused to provide testimony or sign any case-related documents.

Sophon already faces a series of royal defamation charges related to four earlier political activities. Two cases have reached the final judgement. In the first he was sentenced to three years for royal defamation and six months for using a sound amplifier without permission during a protest on 22 April 2022. In the second, he received a three-year prison sentence for royal defamation over a speech in a protest on 6 April 2022. As the court ordered the sentences to run consecutively, he is facing six years and six months in prison. Since the first case in August 2023, Sophon has not been allowed bail and remains in detention.

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