Internet post insulting Thai king’s dog may land man in jail

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Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej holds his dog while sitting in a wheelchair at a hospital in Bangkok late on Feb. 27, 2010. Thailand's revered king returned to hospital early on Feb. 28 after a brief outing to his Bangkok palace, one of few appearances in public since being admitted five months ago, a hospital official said. (Photo credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

A man in Thailand is facing up to 37 years in prison on charges that include mocking the King’s dog.

Thanakorn Siripaiboon, 27, is accused of “liking” a Facebook page deemed insulting to King Bhumibol Adulyade and posting a sarcastic photo of the 88-year-old ruler’s pet dog — charges that contravene notoriously strict laws protecting the monarchy from insults or threats.

His lawyer, Anon Numpa, told CNN Wednesday that his client has been charged with violating Article 112 of the criminal code, known as the “lese majeste law,” along with sedition and computer crimes.

“This is absurd, in every sense. They can’t press charges against people who just click like on a post to express their agreement,” said Numpa. “This is just a means for the military to stop us from digging up on their corruption.”

Numpa was referring to the country’s military rulers, who took control in 2014 after months of protests against the democratically elected government. Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha later declared himself Prime Minister.

Earlier this year, the ruling junta announced a new security order — known as Section 44 — granting the military sweeping new powers to curb activities it feels undermines or threatens national harmony or security.

Human Rights Watch said at the time that the new order would allow Prayuth “to issue orders without administrative, legislative, or judicial oversight or accountability.”

Irregularities

Thanakorn was arrested last week following a raid on his home near Bangkok by the military using their Section 44 powers. The case was then passed to the Thai police’s Crime Suppression Bureau.

He also shared a diagram on his Facebook page that alleged irregularities in a multi-million-dollar park project being built by the military, Numpa said.

Police investigator Lt. Colonel Panupak Suebpru told CNN over the phone Thursday that they will continue to hold Thanakorn while they conduct their investigation, adding that the law allows him to be detained for up to 84 days.

He declined to comment on any other details about the case when asked whether Section 112 would cover the king’s dog.

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