A Twitter user, under the handle “Niranam_” (meaning “anonymous”), is facing several charges for tweets about Thai kings that may result in a jail term of up to 40 years.
The 20-year-old who owns the Twitter account was arrested under the lèse-majesté law, which forbids any materials that defame, insult, or threaten the Thai monarchy on February 19th of this year.
His initial arrest related to a tweet sent about King Rama X. Police raided his home in Chonburi and took him to Pattaya Police Station without an arrest warrant.
Subsequently, he was charged with violating the Computer Crimes Act and detained at Pattaya Police Station. He spent five days and four nights there before bail was posted for his release.
The 200,000 baht bail was crowdfunded via a Facebook group called “Nai Nam Khwam Sa-ngop Riaproi” (“In the Name of Peace and Order”). A further 1.5 million baht was raised by the group to assist with legal costs.
On June 4th, a prosecution order hearing was held at Pattaya Provincial Court, but no prosecution order was submitted. Due to a 10-year statute of limitations, however, the case remains open.
This allows police to summon the 20-year-old to court if a prosecutor decides to bring charges against him.
On June 9th, the police summoned the young man again. This time they added seven charges under the Computer Crimes Act to the initial charge.
The new charges relate to tweets sent from the Twitter account about the death of King Rama VIII, claims about the current and former kings being fashionistas, the 2006 coup d’ état, and the October 1976 massacre.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If Niranam_ is found guilty on all eight counts, he could face a total of 40 years in jail.
According to the charges filed against the 20-year-old, false data was uploaded with photos of two kings. Authorities allege that the images were doctored with the intent of undermining the monarchy.
Police are continuing to collect data for the state prosecution and will then decide whether they will go to court.