Prachatai editor faces up to 50 years in jail – UPDATE
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Prachatai editor faces up to 50 years in jail – UPDATE

UPDATE: PPT has post on this topic here.

BP has previously blogged on the police raid of Prachatai, a popular online news website, and arrest of the editor Chiranuch Premchaiporn. Chiranuch was charged under the Computer Crimes Act as she did not delete comments posted by readers that were alleged to constitute lese majeste. Other posts on her arrest here, here, and here. In theory, Chiranuch she faces up to 50 years in prison because there are 10 counts – five years per count.

The public prosecutor has decided to proceed with the case and Chiranuch was at court today and was detained in jail until she was bailed out.  The Bangkok Post has more:

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Thai online news portal Prachatai, was granted bail this afternoon after prosecutors eventually filed a lawsuit against her under the Computer Crimes Act.

Ms Chiranuch had to wait nearly four hours before bail was approved with a 300,000 baht bond, calculated on her salary as a nursing sister, for not removing comments posted on a web-board deemed offensive to the monarchy  fast enough to satisfy the government censors.

The Criminal Court set May 31 for the first hearing to check defence and prosecution witness lists.

Nirmal Ghosh of the Straits Times:

Earlier this year, at the annual Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) dinner, with Ms Chiranuch present in the audience, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said this was one case that he viewed with “regret.”

Earlier this afternoon I got a call from a friend who told me Ms Chiranuch was at the criminal court, and had been placed in a holding cell. I was supposed to have a day off, but thought I should go down to have a look.

I found Ms Chiranuch in a large holding cell for women – with another dozen or so women. The cell is in the basement; upstairs in the courtroom her lawyers were trying to arrange bail.  There was a gaggle of colleagues from there to offer moral support.

After spending 5 hours at the court, of which 3.5 hours were in the cell, she was released, to her relief and that of her colleagues and friends.

We lined up outside to welcome her after bail had been posted and she was fingerprinted and then signed out. Later on Twitter she thanked others for their messages of support and said it had been a ‘”new and strange experience.”

Whatever the prime minister may say, the case is clearly grinding through the system, and will be a test case for Thailand’s relatively new Computer Crimes Act which arms authorities with wide powers. It will thus be very closely watched.

BP: Prachatai have a report here. BP blogged on Abhisit’s speech at the FCCT here and noted Abhisit’s regret as well. Unfortunately, it seems that Abhisit’s panel on lese majeste has little meaning.

In related lese majeste news, Matichon quotes a senior police officer as stating that the police will issue an arrest warrant for PAD leader Sondhi L if he does surrender to the police by April 2. Have previously blogged about the lese majeste charges that Sondhi L is facing here and here.

BP: When will this nonsense end?