Thai-American jailed on lese majeste charges gets pardon
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Thai-American jailed on lese majeste charges gets pardon

BP blogged on the Thai-born naturalized American citizen Joe Gordon who was arrested in May 2011 on lese majeste charges, then later blogged when the US expressed disappointment when he was actually charged in August 2011 for translating The King Never Smiles, and blogged again when he was jailed for two and a half years in December 2011.

Now, AP reports:

A lawyer for an American imprisoned in Thailand for translating a banned book about the king says he has been granted a royal pardon, and the U.S. Embassy says he has been freed.

Joe Gordon was sentenced in December to two and a half years in prison for translating excerpts of the unauthorized biography “The King Never Smiles” from English into Thai. It’s one high-profile example of the severe punishments given for comments deemed insulting to Thailand’s royal family.

Gordon’s lawyer Arnon Numpa says the royal pardon was granted Tuesday. U.S. Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler says Gordon was freed that night.

BP: Because he was a naturalized American citizen, his case became high profile – although it was dwarfed by the Uncle SMS case – but in reality the pardon also stems from the fact he pleaded guilty and thus followed the traditional way of responding to lese majeste charges.  As blogged on the case of an Australian back in 2008:

I also don’t think publicity helps his case and the more publicity it receives, the more the “freedom-of-speech-loving elements” of the Thai media (i.e Sopon, The Manager et al) will make it a public issue. He has two choices (1) fight the case and spend years in jail pending his trial and appeals, or (2) plead guilty, beg forgiveness and receive a pardon and be back in Australia next year (in all lese majeste cases against foreigners I am aware of, all those who have plead guilty have been granted a pardon). Seriously, who would choose (1) over (2)? Who wants to spend a few years in a Thai jail on the grounds of “principle”?

BP: Given the way that the Thai system works (2) is the option that most people, including Gordon, to take. His pardon took a few more months than BP would have anticipated, but it was just a matter of time of when. His pardon, of course, comes just before Yingluck meets Hillary in Cambodia…..

btw, Who will receive a pardon next?