Senator sues photographer for defamation

Nattaphon “Yah” Phanphongsanon, a photographer for the online news outlet Spacebar, has been sued for defamation by Senator Seree Suwanpanont, over his coverage of an incident in 2023 where activists distributed leaflets, calling on senators to respect the people’s voice during the last prime ministerial vote.

Nattaphon Phanphongsanon (left)
(Photo by Chanakarn Laosarakham)

Nattaphon received a summons on Thursday (29 February) ordering him to report to the police at Watprayakrai Police Station on 8 March on a charge of being an accomplice to defamation by publication.

The charge resulted from an incident on 1 August 2023, where activists distributed leaflets at a market owned by Seree calling on senators to respect the people’s voice during the last prime ministerial vote.

The leaflets carried the Senator’s picture along with the caption “Serve the dictator or follow the voice of the 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 for the PM vote.

Activist Sopon Surariddhidhamrong has been charged with defamation by publication, destruction of property, and intimidating others. Sopon is now detained pending appeal on a royal defamation charge, and the police visited him in prison on 20 February to notify him of the charges in this case.

Seree also filed a defamation by publication charge against Prachatai reporter Nutthaphol Meksobhon over his coverage of the incident.

Nutthaphol and Natthaphon were previously arrested on 12 February and charged with being accomplices in damaging a historic site and vandalizing a wall in a public place. The charge resulted from their coverage of an incident on 28 March 2023 when a 25-year-old activist sprayed an anarchist symbol and the number 112 with a strike through it, onto the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

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