On 16 October 2009 the “Criminal Court has agreed to a request by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to detain Nat Sattayapornpisut, 27, who has been charged under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act after he was found to have sent offensive clips to a blog called ‘StopLeseMajeste’.”
The report is that Nat was given an “initial detention for 12 days, from 15 – 26 Oct, for further investigation, as the DSI needed him to undergo a polygraph (lie-detector) test, and cooperate with investigators in sorting information on his computer seized by the authorities. The accused has been detained at the DSI office.”
The DSI began investigations on 29 August 2008 that led to YouTube clips and the arrest of Suwicha Thakor and the discovery of an alias StopLeseMajeste. The latter is reported to belong to “Emilio Esteban, a 46 year-old Briton living in Spain, who had been in contact with Suwicha via e-mail. Between 19 April 2008 and 15 September 2009, Esteban, who accessed the internet in Spain, published contents offensive to the throne on his weblogs, calling for abolition of the lèse majesté laws.” In searching Esteban’s e-mails, they “found that on 21-23 July 2009 Nat had sent him three offensive clips which were posted on his blogs.”
DSI charged him with offences under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act—disseminating pornographic materials through the internet – which we assume to be the naked pictures of various royals and associates that have long been in circulation. He was eventually bailed out by his relatives with 200,000 baht in cash but a month later was summoned to the DSI, and further charged with lese majeste.
These charges are interesting as the website includes, in addition to some of the most childish clips that appeared at YouTube about the king, clips involving the crown prince and his various consorts in compromising situations as well as other royals in similar situations. Some of the clips are real and have been surreptitiously circulated in Thailand, while others are concocted and silly. Involving the crown prince, who has made it clear that he doesn’t want his private life exposed (think Harry Nicolaides) suggests that Nat can expect severe treatment by the courts.
There was little news on this case until well after his release from prison in April 2012, after serving 2 years and four months.
Prachatai reports that he went to court on 14 December 2009. Nat went alone and without a lawyer. Without support and advice, when he was asked by court officials what he had decided to do he was also told that if he confessed, a verdict would be delivered immediately. He knew that “this kind of case was almost impossible to fight.” He confessed. That day he was found “guilty on three counts for sending three e-mails on 22-23 July 2009, and sentenced him to 9 years in prison, but reduced the term by half as he had pleaded guilty.
Nat’s time in prison was extremely difficult for him. Prachatai reports that “During his time, he got to know other ‘Section 112’ prisoners, starting with Wanchai Saetan who was in the same zone, Warawut Thanangkorn who was moved to the zone in early 2011, and then Thanthawut Thaweewarodomkul. It was Thanthawut who told visitors about Nat and Wanchai. As a result, from mid-2011 onward, Nat, who had previously been rarely visited, had more visitors, including red shirts and other concerned people, and that lifted his spirits.” Nat now visits his compatriots who remain imprisoned on lese majeste charges.
Media and other reports:
Red Shirts blog, 2 December 2012: “The Remarkable 112 Community“
Prachatai, 4 August 2012: “Now a free man“
Prachatai, 21 March 2012: “8 lèse majesté convicts ask PM to seek royal pardon for them“
Prachatai, 6 March 2012: “Surachai will ask PM to seek royal pardon for political prisoners“
Reporters Without Borders, 4 December 2009: “King asked to pardon Internet users prosecuted on lese majeste or national security charges”