[JURIST] Pravit Rojanaphruk [CPJ profile], a prominent Thai journalist, was charged Tuesday with sedition and violation of Thailand’s computer laws for making political posts online. Pravit, known for being a strong advocate of press freedom, allegedly made political posts on Facebook in February 2016, prompting the current charges [NYT report]. Poomsuk Poomsukcharoen, a member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights [advoacy website, in Thai], stated that Pravit presented himself to the police department after the charges were filed. Poomsuk also stated that Pravit was asked to return to police station on August 18, where he will be provided with more information concerning his charges. If convicted, Pravit could face up to seven years in prison.
Thailand’s enforcement of laws stifling free speech has become increasingly prevalent the past year. In July Thailand’s Supreme Court sentenced opposition leader Jatuporn Prompan to one year in prison for defaming Thailand’s current prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. In May Thailand ordered [JURIST report] Facebook to remove posts about the king. That same month a Thai human rights lawyer was charged [JURIST report] for insulting the royal family. In February the Supreme Court of Thailand upheld [JURIST report] the sentence of a former magazine editor who published stories criticizing the royal family. Earlier in February human rights groups urged the Thai Army to drop defamation charges [JURIST report] against three activists. Prior to that, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye called on[JURIST report] Thai authorities to cease using royal defamation laws to counter free speech that is critical of the royal family.