Wichai Thepphong

WichaiOn 23 December 2015, Chiang Mai Police arrested Wichai Thepphong (วิชัย เทพวงศ์) for allegedly creating a Facebook profile under a former friend’s name and posting allegedly lese majeste messages on it to damage his former friend.

Lese majeste has mostly been used as a political tool to lock up opponents of authoritarian or military-backed regimes. However, there have been some cases reported where lese majeste has been used in personalized disputes. This is one of the latter cases.

The 33-year-old was charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code after a military court issued an arrest warrant against him on 15 December 2015.

Wichai was arrested after the police received a complaint from an unidentified person that another individual had created a Facebook profile using the complainant’s name and posted messages allegedly defamatory to the monarchy.

The police concluded that Wichai, who had been a best friend of the complainant now turned foe, had created the fake Facebook profile.

Two points can be considered. First, because the lese majeste law is both draconian and allows anyone to make a complaint, it is subject to abuse by anyone, including the authorities. Second, it is remarkable and a sad testament to authoritarianism, that this case has been the responsibility of a military court.

Media accounts of Wichai’s case:

Prachatai, 23 December 2015: “Facebooker arrested for lese majeste over copycat facebook profile