A 42-year-old artist from Phuket will be put on trial for posting an image on Facebook in March claiming that Suvarnabhumi airport did not properly screen him for coronavirus upon his arrival from Barcelona, Spain after the court accepted his case.
The case was filed against Danai Usama by the state prosecutor at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, on May 12th who called for a “heavy sentence.”
The issue arose on March 17th when Danai posted an image along with a caption on his personal Facebook page claiming that he had not been screened for covid-19 after arriving in Bangkok from Spain, a hotspot for the virus.
However, the photo he used on his post was taken in 2019 and not from the day he arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport. The prosecutor has told the courts that this equates to spreading false information which is a punishable crime in Thailand.
The prosecution says that at the time of the Facebook post, Suvarnabhumi airport had installed thermoscan machines and had also increased the number of officials in all areas of the airport to screen for coronavirus.
In the charges levied against Danai, he is accused of spreading information that could mislead the public, cause loss of trust in the airport and Thai Government, and spread panic.
The prosecutor has requested a heavy sentence, claiming the defendant knew that he was spreading false information and by using Facebook, he was aware that the post would be shared and seen by many people.
Danai was initially arrested over the incident while in a 14-day self-quarantine at his gallery in Phuket on March 23rd. He was then taken to Bangkok by plane later that day and placed in custody.
His court case will be heard on July 20th and has again highlighted the restrictions imposed by the Thai Government in relation to the expression of freedom online, something that was recently criticized in a 26-page briefing by Amnesty International.