Police brought lese majeste and computer crimes charges against Niran Yaowapha, the head of Manager ASTV’s online section on 6 February 2015. He is accused of disseminating a forged royal statement on the king’s health and the appointment of a regent. He was convicted on 29 September 2015.
Earlier, on 4 February 2015, red shirt Krit Bootdeejean was arrested and accused of lese majeste and computer crimes over the same statement.
The police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division sought approval from a Military Court for a warrant to arrest Niran who has admitted that he disseminated the allegedly forged statement from the Royal Household Bureau. Niran has said he removed it when the statement was said to be faked.
Niran was arrested, charged and released on bail. Bail for lese majeste detainees is very rare and his release represented the double standards of the judiciary. These double standards were confirmed when the military court suspended his sentence.
The court sentenced Niran to five years imprisonment for lese majeste and under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act. Because Niran pleaded guilty, the court halved the jail term to two-years and six-months. It also suspended the jail term for two years, saying Niran had attempted to correct the mistake by taking down the false statement from the ASTV website and issuing an apology.
Media accounts of Niran’s case:
Prachatai, 2 October 2015: “Military court suspends jail term for yellow-shirt lèse majesté convict”
Prachatai, 11 February 2015: “Military court grants bail to ASTV-Manager editor facing lèse majesté”
Khaosod, 10 February 2015: “Royal Forgery: Red Activist Jailed, Online Editor Released”
Bangkok Post, 7 February 2015: “ASTV webmaster arrest warrant approved”
NNT, 6 February 2015: “Police requests arrest warrant for ASTV website admin”
Bangkok Post, 5 February 2015: “UDD lawyer denied access to Krit”
Bangkok Post, 4 February 2015: “Red-shirt musician held over fake royal document release”
Khaosod, 4 February 2015: “Thai Musician Arrested For Allegedly Forging Royal Statement”
Prachatai, 4 February 2015: “Man arrested for fake Royal Household’s statement“