The Banpot 6 became the Banpot 8, then the Banpot 10 and Banpot 12 as the cruel military dictatorship arrested up to a dozen persons and charged them with lese majeste. Later, a further two were arrested, making this the Banpot 14.
Ten were sentenced to jail on 14 July 2015 by a military court. Two were acquitted of lese majeste charges but found guilty of supporting the network.
Those arrested were claimed to be a part of what the authorities described as a “criminal organization” accused of distributing online materials that defame the monarchy. Police announced the initial 6 arrests at a press conference on 2 February 2015.
On about 8 February 2015, a further two were added to the list, making this the Banpot 8. By the time the case got to trial, 10 were involved and another two awaited trial. The latter two had decided to defend the case, which probably means the torture of many months awaiting trial as the authorities attempt to convince them that a guilty plea is required.
The accused are listed as Damrong S., Siwaporn P., Neongkoon U., Paisit J., Anchan P., and Tara W. They are accused of having been involved with a so-called Banpot network. The two added were Natee P. and Saifon I. We await the names of the rest. The group includes 4 women and most are aged between 35 and 65 years.
They are accused of working with the quite well-known Banpot who produces radio programs distributed via the internet. Banpot’s programs are long talk shows that have been about politics and the monarchy. Many of the shows reproduce many of the rumors whirling around the royal family. It has long been thought that Banpot produces his podcasts outside Thailand.
The police and the Department Special Investigation (DSI) claimed the group had operated since 2011 and that the group’s activities posed “grave threats to national security and the revered Thai monarchy institution.”
The authorities claimed that the suspects in the network operated systematically, opening bank accounts, fund-raising, holding meetings and dividing the work of distributing Banpot’s podcasts.
They were charged with lese majeste and under the Computer Crimes Act. Eight were handed 10-year jail terms while two were sentenced to six years imprisonment. All were halved for the “required” guilty plea. Most were found guilty of insulting the monarchy and publishing false information by computer while the pair facing the shorter sentence were found guilty of “supporting” them. In passing sentence, a military judge stated that “The group produced more than 400 video and audio clips since 2009 that are considered defamatory and insult or threaten the king, queen or heir apparent and are a threat to national security…”.
One of the two outstanding cases resulted in an “eight-year jail term for an elderly man charged with lèse majesté for uploading and sharing audio clips from the so-called anti-monarchy Banpodj Network.”
On 28 December 2015, a secret deposition hearing, sentenced Tanitsak (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 50-year-old cameraman’s assistant from the northeast, under Article 112. His 8-year term was halved after he agreed to plead guilty.
Tanitsak was arrested on 25 April 2015 in Chaiyaphum province and remained in custody since that arrest. He did not apply for bail, saying his family could not afford it.
Prachatai reports that a “total of 14 people were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Banpodj Network. They were separated into two groups of 12 and two, each group facing different charges. Two of the 12 decided to fight the case, while 10 pleaded guilty.”
On 24 January 2016, the first plaintiff witness testified in the court case against Anchan P. The witness was Pol Lt Col Olarn Sukkasem from the Technological Crime Suppression Division, known for having given prosecution evidence in numerous lese majeste cases following the 2014 coup. The second plaintiff witness is scheduled to testify to the military court on 16 May 2016. We will post on this case under Anchan P.
Media accounts of the Banpot
6 8 10 14’s case:
Prachatai, 11 March 2016: “A year after arrest, 1st witness testify in lese majeste case against Anchan”
Prachatai, 29 January 2016: “Life of Man to 8 years for uploading lèse majesté file: Who is he?”
Prachatai, 29 December 2015: “Military court sends elderly man to 4 years in jail over lèse majesté audio clips”
The Shillong Times, 15 July 2015: “Thai military court jails ten for insulting monarchy”
NDTV, 14 July 2014: “Thailand Court Jails 10 From ‘Anti-Monarchy’ Network”
VOA, 14 July 2015: “Thai Court Jails 10 for Online Videos Insulting Monarchy”
AFP, 14 July 2015: “Thai court jails 10 from ‘anti-monarchy’ network”
Khaosod, 14 July 2015: “10 Jailed for Running Anti-Monarchy Broadcasting Network”
Straits Times, 14 July 2015: “Thailand’s military court jails 10 people for insulting monarchy with audio, video recordings”
AP, 14 July 2015: “Thai court jails 10 for online videos insulting the monarchy”
Prachatai, 14 July 2015: “Military court sends 8 to jail for 5 years for lèse majesté”
Prachatai, 9 February 2015: “Police identify Banpodj, arrest 2 more for lèse majesté”
Prachatai, 2 February 2015: “Police arrest 6 suspects in the alleged online lese majeste network“