US Citizen Facing 15 Years In Jail For Linking From His Blog To An Unauthorized Bio Of Thai King

from the goodbye-tourism dept

I’m curious if Thailand is purposely trying to kill off its rather lucrative tourism business. We’ve discussed in the past that Thailand has strict laws against “insulting” the king. These lèse majesté laws are used widely in Thailand to stop any sort of political criticism. They’ve been used to block entire sites including YouTube, and to arrest website owners for the comments on their site.

Lately, Thailand has been trying to use those laws against US citizens. Last month, we wrote about the case of Anthony Chai, a US citizen who had posted some anonymous comments critical of the king. In that case, the Canadian/US firm that hosted the site handed Chai’s identity over to the Thai government without question, and Chai was arrested recently while visiting.

In a similar case, US citizen Joe Gordon had posted a link on his blog to an unauthorized bio of the king… and was then arrested when visiting Thailand, the news has come out that after months of denying the charges, Gordon has decided he can’t take it any more and has agreed to plead guilty.

“I do not want to fight this case. I plead guilty to all the accusations,” he told judges.

At this point, I’m not sure why any US citizen would ever agree to visit Thailand again. If you merely link to an unauthorized bio of the king, you could end up in jail. Furthermore, I’m curious as to what the Thai leadership thinks it’s accomplishing with these actions. Honestly, without these cases, I’d never even know about the Thai king at all. It seems like each of these actions only brings greater negative attention on the king than if he’d just ignored such things.

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Comments on “US Citizen Facing 15 Years In Jail For Linking From His Blog To An Unauthorized Bio Of Thai King”

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Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 OOh, free trip!

It might not be free room and board. Was Thailand a British, Spanish or French possession way back when?

In countries with French and Spanish legal traditions, it’s not unusual (particularly in the formerly French ones) for the jailer to NOT provide any food to the prisoners. Feeding prisoners is actually more of a British thing.

Being thrown into a third world jail sucks. Being expected to pay for your own meals in there or starve sucks a lot more.

Wayne says:

Hey Freetard anonymous coward,

yes, if we’re on the kindergarten playground it might be a good argument, but in the real world of adults I can call you a moron and there’s no way i am going to jail for 15 years. I call the king of Thailand a moron and oops, if i visit Thailand i can go to jail for 15 years. Yeah your right, his feelings are so important.

A Monkey with Atitude (profile) says:

I think what is most annoying is that the USA plays the “Our law trumps your law”, and Thailand plays the game but the only ones that ever lose are the innocent citizens caught between… so the people that really matter (the citizens, that drive the economy and make it possible to have a country in the first place) are getting screwed so the “government” can play big dick games.

Anonymous Coward says:

what Thai leadership is thinking?

Nothing about these laws I’m sure.

Mostly, I think the current PM is thinking “How do I clear my brothers name so he doesn’t get arrested when he enters the country?” Far more important things on their mind than tourism income right now. I doubt they have noticed this issue at all.

For those who don’t know, the current prime minister in Thailand is the sister of a former PM who was removed by the military and subsequently found guilty of multiple counts of electoral fraud and abuse of position. He fled the country just before a ruling was handed down and has not come back since. His family and lackeys still own a good portion of the country and have bought their way into power twice now (removed once by way of convicting a bunch more people of electoral fraud, second time round they have not been found out yet: getting sneakier it seems.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I think every country should enact laws that make it a crime to commit a crime anywhere in the world.

So then when American business people start getting jailed in foreign soil and they can’t complaint because the US has done it too this would be a boom for lawyers all over the world.

Imagine enacting laws that increase your jail time if you don’t pay the fine for it in the country, any local business men will be looking at the internet to find out what other executives did wrong so they can be jailed if they ever set foot in their countries.

fmhilton (profile) says:

The King of Thailand is a god

This means you don’t go around dissing their god..or the other countries where gods exist.
He’s the supreme being there. People worship him literally-so don’t confuse them with reality or your bad attitude.
As to whether or not he knows about this? Who do you think made it a law? The Tooth Fairy?
They like their power, and that’s why this happens.
I’m also not planning to visit Thailand any time soon. Hell, I can’t even get out of this rotten state!

Rip says:

Actually, I’m not sure the King of Thailand has anything to do with this.
I remember a case several years ago, where a young Swiss citizen was arrested in Thailand after getting drunk and deciding it would be fun to spray-paint insults to the king on a wall.
The king intervened to have the guy sent back to Switzerland and said in a statement that he didn’t want to see this man go to prison because he isn’t a tyrant.
Apparently it’s one of those laws that the king doesn’t approve of but doesn’t have the authority or influence to strike down himself. Or maybe the king approves of the law and only intervened in the case of the Swiss guy because he felt a diplomatic incident would be bad for his country.

Udom (profile) says:

King Bhumibol Adulyade

King Bhumibol, who died on Oct 13th, was actually born in Cambridge Massachusetts, so technically he was an American citizen. He held degrees from Harvard and the Sorbonne in Paris and was revered in Thailand. Thai society is built on Buddhist principles, one of which is Right Speech, and the western habit of badmouthing everyone and everything is considered very crude and vulgar. Anyone who insults the King insults each and every Thai, and yes, if you try that while visiting Thailand you’ll find yourself in prison.

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