Chaleaw J. was a 55 year-old tailor born in Chaiyaphum when he was arrested in 2014. He is reportedly a resident of Bangkok and a self-taught computer geek who was arrested for allegedly lese majeste materials he stored at 4shared.com, a free file sharing and storage website.
Amongst the hundreds of clips stored were online red-shirt radio programmes and a few speeches by Banpot who specializes in radical anti-monarchist diatribes. “I mostly forgot what I had stored there,” said Chaleaw.
He was detained by the junta on 3 June and charged on 9 June on lese majeste and computer crimes charges.
He has requested bail twice, and was refused, and now hoped he might get it after a third time. He said he “planned to confess once the trial began and hoped to seek royal pardon as soon as possible.”
On 1 September 2014, Chaleaw was found guilty and sentenced to three years. This was halved and suspended for two years. He had already been held for 84 days. The suspension is a surprise in lese majeste cases, and PPT can only recall one other.
He was found guilty under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.
He claimed that he did not distribute or intend to distribute the clips he saved and did not know that uploading the clips was a crime. Only one clip was consider a problem, being a program by “Banphot,” an anti-monarchy commentator. The authorities accused him of being Banphot, but Chaleaw insisted this was not so. He was intensively interrogated and was subjected to a lie detector test.
Prosecutors were aghast that a lese majeste conviction did not result in jail time and appealed.
In a secret appeals court hearing Chaleaw was sentenced to five years under Article 112 of the Criminal Crime Code and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Code for importing illegal online content.
The jail term was halved to two years and six months because the defendant pleaded guilty, but the court refused to suspend the jail term. The verdict was read in secret with no one allowed into the court except the defense lawyer and the prosecutors.
Chaleaw was accused of being a part of the Banpot network.
It was reported on 9 September 2015 that Chaleaw had been granted bail by the Supreme Court while he and his lawyers prepared an appeal.
Media accounts of Chaleaw’s case:
Prachatai, 10 September 2015: “Court grants bail to elderly lèse majesté suspect”
Prachatai, 3 September 2015: “Red shirt gets 2 years, 6 months imprisonment for uploading lese majeste audio clips”
Prachatai, 1 September 2014: “Man found guilty of lèse majesté for uploading clips”
Prachatai, 24 July 2014: “Lèse majesté prisoners denied bail“