The Facebook 8 are Harit Mahaton, Noppakao Kongsuwan, Worawit Saksamutnan, Yohtin Mangkhangsanga, Thanawat Buranasirim, Supachai Saibutr, Kannasit Tangboonthin, and Natthika Worathaiyawich. Two of them – Harit Mahaton and Nattatika Worathaiwit – were charged with lese majeste.
The Facebook 8 refers to persons arrested and accused of being linked to a satirical Facebook community page. They were charged with sedition and computer crimes on 28 April 2016 after being arrested the day before in Bangkok and Khon Kaen.
The eight were all charged under Article 116 of the Penal Code – sedition – and violations of the Computer Crimes Act. The junta maintained that the group’s satirical Facebook community page “We Love Gen. Prayut,” where users regularly posted doctored photos and memes parodying Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha and members of his junta, claiming this was intended to “cause unrest.” Harit and Nattatika were also hit with lese majeste charges.
All appeared before a military court. The court did not disclose the nature of the lese majeste cases, but activist and lawyer Arnon Nampha told media the military found allegedly offensive language in a Facebook chat between the two.
Initially all were refused bail. Later, six were bailed, with the military court refusing bail for Harit and Nattatika claiming flight risk and the possibility that they might attempt to distort evidence and the seriousness of the offense. All are standard claims by royalist courts. The defendants allege that the military and police used illegal measures to obtain “evidence.”
The two firmly maintained their innocence.
Repeated refusals of bail caused their parents to visit the Grand Palace to pay respect to the monarchy and submitted a bail request for their children to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.
Finally, on 8 July 2016, the two were released on bail. Lawyers could shed no light on the reason for the court accepting the bail requests this time.
On 2 August 2016, however, the military prosecutor indicted the two anti-junta critics on lese majeste and computer crimes.
Media accounts of Harit’s case:
Prachatai, 3 August 2016: “Military prosecutor indicts anti-junta critics for lèse majesté”
Khaosod, 8 July 2016: “Court Orders Lese Majeste Facebookers to be Freed”
Prachatai, 6 June 2016: “Parents of lѐse majesté suspects ask Royal Secretariat to allow bail”
Prachatai, 19 May 2016: “Military court denies bail for two junta critics”
Prachatai, 11 May 2016: “Military court detains two junta critics, their supporter for lѐse majesté”
Khaosod, 30 April 2016: “Lese Majeste Filed Against Two Facebookers, Anti-Junta Activist“