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US Citizen Visiting Thailand Arrested For Blog Posting 456

Posted by timothy
from the otherwise-I'd-like-to-go dept.
societyofrobots writes "A US citizen, upon visiting Thailand for medical treatment, was arrested for lese majeste (insulting the king) and computer crimes ('entering false information into a computer system'). He is charged for posting a link on his blog to a banned book, The King Never Smiles, and for translating excerpts of it. He made the posting four years ago in 2007, while in the US. Trials for lese majeste are traditionally held in secret, for reasons of 'national security'. AFP has more information."
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US Citizen Visiting Thailand Arrested For Blog Posting

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  • "lese majeste" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koreaman (835838) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Sunday May 29, 2011 @05:29PM (#36281862)

    Latin for "law that let's us put whoever the fuck we want in jail"

    • Re:"lese majeste" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 29, 2011 @05:54PM (#36282046)

      Even the king himself has been censored under these rules. He gave his blessing to a biography that was later banned for insulting the king.

      He's also against these rules and has sworn to pardon anyone tried under these rules, so we can at least hope the US guy gets off scot-free.

    • Re:"lese majeste" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sortius_nod (1080919) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:00PM (#36282100) Homepage

      The problem with Thailand is that the king himself has spoken out about the use of les majeste against the population, but the political parties ignore him. The king claimed (before he became as ill as he is now) that anyone can comment on the family, just not be abusive about it.

      There's a bigger problem brewing though. When the king dies, which won't be far off judging by his health, the crown prince will take over. This guy is an idiot, thinks he's some sort of playboy. He is the total opposite of what a Thai royal should be, so there will be a lot of anger against the crown. The only thing that keeps Thailand together at this stage is the current king, so it will be interesting where this goes.

      As for this American guy, well, he shouldn't have gone to Thailand if he's going to be linking banned books and posting excerpts. There's enough information on how Thailand's authorities view both the book and it's claims. Feeling sorry for him is like feeling sorry for the drug smugglers in a Bali prison, they knew the laws of the country, and if not, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

      • Re:"lese majeste" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:15PM (#36282190) Journal
        While I agree about avoiding travel to shithole jurisdictions whose laws I'm on the wrong side of, I have to wonder whether this guy has some backstory that made him more interesting to the locals.

        Unless the Thai authorities are way ahead of the game, they must have about a zillion other cases that they could be taking an interest in(or local troublemakers they feel like beating down, it isn't stability city over there), rather than some random Yank who said something mean four years ago, and (seeing as he went there for treatment) will either be leaving when recovered or going out the back door, depending on what he is being treated for. He seems like a low-priority case.

        Is this just a matter of some google-using authoritarian jackoff justifying his job by bring cases, no matter how cold and irrelevant, or is the american in question of interest for some other reason(suspected enthusiasm for underage ladyboys, dubiously ethical business dealings, meddling in local revolutionary politics, or something) and this is just the easiest way to bring him in?
      • Re:"lese majeste" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:15PM (#36282194)

        The problem with Thailand is that the king himself has spoken out about the use of les majeste against the population, but the political parties ignore him. The king claimed (before he became as ill as he is now) that anyone can comment on the family, just not be abusive about it.

        Don't be so fucking naive.

        The political parties doesn't ignore him. He's not the Queen of England and he has a traditional influence in Thai politics and has interfered in public life since he's come to power. The lese majeste laws are useful to him, so he keeps it around. He just pardons expats or minor abuses so he can pose as a nice guy. When it's useful, you're fucking going to be judged in secret and then will be DEAD.

        King Bhumibol Adulyadej is an ASSHOLE. Let's put the truth out there!

        Bhumibol ascended the throne following the death by gun-shot wound of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, on 9 June 1946 in mysterious circumstances, prompting suggestions that Bhumibol had been involved in or responsible for his death.

        That evening, Sarit Dhanarajata seized power, and two hours later Bhumibol imposed martial law throughout the Kingdom.[33] Bhumibol issued a Royal Command appointing Sarit as "Military Defender of the Capital" without anyone countersigning this Royal Command.

        Bhumibol retains enormous powers, partly because of his immense popularity and partly because his powers - although clearly defined in the Thai constitution - are often subject to conflicting interpretations. This was highlighted by the controversy surrounding the appointment of Jaruvan Maintaka as Auditor-General. Jaruvavn had been appointed by The State Audit Commission. However, the Constitutional Court ruled in July 2004 that her appointment was unconstitutional. Jaruvan refused to vacate her office without an explicit order from Bhumibol, on the grounds that she had previously been royally approved. When the Senate elected a replacement for Jaruvan, Bhumibol refused to approve him.[75] The Senate declined to vote to override Bhumibol's veto.[76] Finally in February 2006 the Audit Commission reinstated Jaruvan when it became clear from a memo from the Office of the King's Principal Private Secretary that King Bhumibol supported her appointment.

        He's the effective ruler of Thailand, he plays around with the military coups to keep his power (Thailand has a military coup every other day) and he likes the fucking lese majeste laws.

        Stop with this the King is a nice guy propaganda bullshit. The Thai might like to have a dictator in power and that's their problem but he's not a powerless king that loves his people. He's a politician like every other.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        As for this American guy, well, he shouldn't have gone to Thailand if he's going to be linking banned books and posting excerpts. There's enough information on how Thailand's authorities view both the book and it's claims. Feeling sorry for him is like feeling sorry for the drug smugglers in a Bali prison, they knew the laws of the country, and if not, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

        No. He did that years ago, in the US, and he's a US citizen. Translating part of a book shouldn't ban you fro

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "He did that years ago, in the US, and he's a US citizen. Translating part of a book shouldn't ban you from a country forever."

          Yeah, and I'm sure US will be really happy to let you in if they'd known you're been translating and promoting "terrorist" and anti-US books before.

          He is lucky it was the authorities who catched him. If he was going around talking bullshit about the king there would had been a really good change the locals would have seriously kicked his ass or even beat him up so much that he dies.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            He is lucky it was the authorities who catched him. If he was going around talking bullshit about the king there would had been a really good change the locals would have seriously kicked his ass or even beat him up so much that he dies.

            You're still missing the point. He didn't say or publish anything offensive about Thai king while in Thailand. His "crime" was committed at a different time, long ago, and entirely outside the borders of Thailand, nor did it involve citizens of Thailand. Any claims of jurisdiction in such a case are pure bullshit. For that matter, how was he supposed to know back then that something he did was against the law somewhere else in the world? Are you sure that you've never committed a crime in some country you'v

        • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

          If you want to head to Bumrungrad for medical treatment, then you should not be stupid about the implications of what you say. There should be some level of statute of limitations, but I would vote for a backstory here.

          On a side note, RIP Charlie, of Scuba Junction, son of Sang Tip, the king of Koh Tao. 1997ish to today.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by uofitorn (804157)
          The parent posted something that you disagree with and you advocate for his death? That sounds absurd to me too.

          Translating a book shouldn't ban you from a country forever. Posting a comment on slashdot shouldn't sentence you to death.
        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          No offense, but if you happen to publish some nice leaks from US that make it look bad, and then are dumb enough to step on US soil, you won't even get a trial.

          You'll just vanish, and maybe a few years later you'll be found nicely brainwashed in Egypt, or where ever it is that USA outsources torture nowadays after Mubarak's flashy exit. If you're lucky, you'll just get shot and no one will ever find the body. It's not like we don't have precedent on these things you know.

          Different countries have different t

        • He did that years ago, in the US, and he's a US citizen.

          That argument might hold more weight if the US behaved as if it's laws stopped at it's borders.

      • by sqldr (838964)
        Here in England, we can say what we like about the Queen, and the last time an English monarch complained about it, we cut his head off for treason!  Prince charles says that when he becomes king he will use his position for political dissent.  Yeah, try it mate...  actually nobody will listen to the pro-homeopathy nutcase with a business selling overpriced biscuits (cookies)
      • by Kjella (173770)

        The current Thai king isn't like say european kings, good or bad kings they come and go with a bit of scandal and that is all. In Thailand it's more like:

        Deity
        |
        King
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        People

        Rest of world:

        Deity
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        King
        |
        People

        I really hope that country doesn't go to hell because the people there are very nice, very friendly. A lot of people to fool money out of tourists, but very little violence, robberies and other shit you get in many poor countries. And they try to keep foreigners out of their own problems, even whe

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865)

      America has one of these. It let's the president claim _anyone_ including a citizen is an enemy combatant and whisk them away to gitmo without representation or a trial or any other rights granted to a citizen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#36281912)

    The king of Thailand is a dirty bastard who fucked a chicken. On multiple occasions. In the ass.

    • by c0lo (1497653)
      Thailand... were the prince throws a birthday party for his poodle and the princess attends the party topless [wikileaks.info]. Truth to be told... the poodle is one of two Thai's Air Chief Marshals [telegraph.co.uk].
    • The king of Thailand is a dirty bastard who fucked a chicken. On multiple occasions. In the ass.

      So his majesty is like... going steady with this... chicken? I confess I have a hard time believing the old man would do this. Now if we're talking about the crown prince...

  • ._. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is why you research the laws of the place you are visiting before you make the actual visit.

  • Add Thailand to the list of countries that are unsafe to visit until the revolution.
    • The cool thing about Thailand is that they've been through 17 constitutions(and more governments) since 1932, and basically all of them have afforded at least theoretical deference to the king. Your heuristic might have hit a corner case here.
    • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:55PM (#36282442)
      They're not so bad. All they did was arrest a "lone wolf" terrorist under the authority of Thailand's patriot act. Thailand is safe now.
  • I take it places like that assume their laws apply globally?

    Wonder what kind of an argument that would make in a real court there, bringing up a scenario where someone from Thailand had an affair while in Thailand and then flew to somewhere in the middle east where that was a capital offense, and got arrested at risk of execution?

    But then it's a "secret trial" which usually translates to a "mock trial". I'd expect those trials have a 99.999% conviction rate. I wonder why they bother with them? it's not l

    • Re:jurisdiction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Splab (574204) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @05:47PM (#36281998)

      "places like that"?

      Like the US? India? UK? All countries currently trying to extract (or recently did) people for committing a crime that didn't break any local laws.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Agreed. This is a good and relevant story that needs more attention. When people in the US are routinely indignant, offended, upset or even outraged by this sort of behavior of other governments, we then need to point to our own US government which has done similar and even worse things quite recently.

        There is a lot of "people don't want to believe we are bad" going on here which shows us more of people being blinded to the facts by belief. Hell, I still want to believe that the US is "the good guys."

        • by tftp (111690)

          There is a lot of "people don't want to believe we are bad" going on here which shows us more of people being blinded to the facts by belief.

          I finished reading this [bestrussianbuy.com] (a text, not the audio book) just yesterday. It's quite on topic.

          Spoiler alert or not, the story is pretty sad. A common guy from the modern world magically, against his wish, ends up being a "Dark Lord" in a magical land. However he is a "Dark Lord" in name only - he is not doing anything bad at all, and he is maintaining his kingdom as we

      • Out of curiosity, can you cite any examples?

        Who is the US trying to extradite for someone committing a crime outside US borders that was legal where the act was performed?

        • From another poster:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Sklyarov [wikipedia.org]
          • He was on US soil when he distributed the information. And the DCMA does say it is illegal to circumvent copyright protection for any reason. While I disagree with the law, it is a law. So he broke the law of a country while currently in that country.

            He was arrested, but released.

            That in no way is an example of the United States seeking extradition for someone who never broke a law on US soil.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Oh please. As much bitter hatred as you may harbor for the US, there's simply no comparison between shit like this, and the charges against Roman Polanski, or whoever you happen to be referring to. There are such things as just and unjust laws. It is when unjust laws are applied that people get upset.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @05:49PM (#36282010) Homepage Journal

    It seems this guy was a Thai immigrant who earned US Citizenship.
    However, he might still hold Thai Citizenship, and in that event, the guy will have no US Protections

    • by steelfood (895457)

      That depends on whether he entered Thailand with his US or Thai passport. If he goes in with his US passport, he's afford all the protections that any other US citizen can and should expect from Thailand (which could be none at all--it depends on the country's laws and treaties). If he uses his Thai passport (assuming he still has it), he's SOL.

  • This man was born in Thailand, and was treated as Thai citizen. Why on Earth would this idiot expect that also having a US passport would automatically exempt him from Thai laws (no matter how stupid and repressive they are) that other Thai citizens are subjected, when we was on Thai soil?

    Consider the case of Iranian Canadian Hossein_Derakhshan who was thrown in jail because he visited Israel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hossein_Derakhshan [wikipedia.org]

    At least in

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      "Human rights" is currently a code word for "puppet government loyal to US". As long as this is the case, I suggest keeping your human rights initiatives WITHIN your own country.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Pressure needs to be applied globally to force *ALL* countries to support human rights, privacy, freedom of speech + movement, etc.!

      Encourage? Yes. Lead by example? Yes. Assist with revolution? Yes. Force to change? No. It is up to the people of a sovereign country to decide what they want their country to be. It is not the place of another country to impose their views and morality on another country. That is merely war by another means.

    • Why would any one not expect the laws of the country they're in to apply to them?

      You travel, you look for a summary of the local laws and customs before you go; or you take your chance at either offending people that would otherwise help you, or getting thrown in jail or beheaded.

      You get caught smuggling banned substances into Australia? Jail. Most anywhere in South-East Asia? Death. If you're unwilling to Google, call a travel hotline, or ask your government, you deserve everything you get.

  • This, people, is why privacy IS important after all.
    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      Absolutely - if the guy had kept his thoughts private, he wouldn't be in this trouble now. That IS what you meant, isn't it?
  • by future assassin (639396) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:15PM (#36282192) Homepage

    If the US can do it so can everyone else.

  • by ross.w (87751) <rwonderley@nOsPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 29, 2011 @06:21PM (#36282250) Journal
    Julian Assange will be watching this case with interest, and would be amused at all the "how dare they, he's a citizen of a free country" posts.
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Right, because as we know, Mr. Assange was charged with crimes carrying a life sentence. Oh, wait, he wasn't charged with anything. A bunch of right-wing fascists called for his murder, but they do that to anyone who looks at them wrong.

  • It seems little has changed.

    Read Pepys' Diary for the 17th August 1666 [pepysdiary.com], where he quotes a friend describing the King of Siam out hunting, and the European visitors not knowing they should fall on their faces as he passed..."Their druggerman did desire them to fall down, for otherwise he should suffer for their contempt of the King." At the end of the hunt, the dragoman told the King's emissary how much the foreigners liked it, which was quite untrue; but no matter, said the dragoman, "for our King do not l

  • "A hereditary monarch, observed Thomas Paine, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician."

    The most common use of such figureheads is to put the sheen of legitimacy on of those who take power in their names; there are times when this is the figurehead themselves and then there are those times when the figurehead is merely a puppet or even a religious symbol. In all cases that I'm aware of it's merely an excuse for man to dominate his fellow man... when no real reason to do so exists.

  • cue the sound of a million angry bloggers inventing insults for the king of thailand.
  • Is the king allowed to use self-depricating humor? If not, would a show on NPR centered on discussions about cars be illegal in Thailand if hosted by the king?

  • I fart in king Bhumibol's general direction. His mother was a binturong and his father smelt of durians.

    Also, DUPE!

  • How can we have a story on Thailand and the guy who puts the term 'ladyboy' in every comment hasn't posted?

  • by matunos (1587263) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:41PM (#36283590)
    It's good to know that the Thai authorities have their priorities straight. We wouldn't want them stopping any child prostitution or sex tourism.
  • Yes, that is not a joke..

    Blog about a certain UK Footballer had an affair with a certain Model and you can go to Jail..

    Still Think you live in a "Free Country" ?

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