The Criminal Court has scheduled 14 September to hear the testimony of political activist Karn Pongpraphapan. The prosecutor has brought charges under the Computer Crime Act over comments about the monarchy that allegedly caused public disorder and affected the Kingdom’s security.
Karn Pongpraphapan giving a speech in a certain protest.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the schedule was announced on 30 July after charges of violating Section 14(3) of the Computer Crime Act were brought at the beginning of June. Karn has denied all the charges.
The prosecutor states that Karn is sued over 2 public Facebook posts during 2 – 4 October 2019. One post compared the fates of monarchies in Russia, France, Germany, Greece and Laos. The second post commented on the hashtag #ขบวนเสด็จ (#RoyalMotorcade), a popular hashtag used to criticize the Thai monarchy at the time.
Late on the night of 3 October, Karn received an SMS sent under the name of “RoyalPalace” urging him to abandon all social media accounts that night for his own safety. He did so and received another SMS from the same name on 4 October saying “Thank you for the cooperation”. The identity of the SMS source is still unknown today.
Karn was arrested at his house on 7 October 2019 by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), an anti-cybercrime police force. His smartphone and laptop were seized. The court later granted him bail of 100,000 baht.
TLHR stated that Karn’s case marks a significant change in the legal prosecution of anti-monarchy opinions. Section 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law) is no longer used in favour of Section 14(3) of the Computer Crime Act.
Karn, now 26 years old, graduated from Thammasat University. He participated in several public protests in 2019 calling for a general election and was prosecuted twice for doing so.