Thai university student sentenced to prison on royal defamation charges

A Thai university student has been reportedly sentenced to prison on royal defamation charges. Aukit Santiprasitkul, 23, a Ramkhamhaeng University Faculty of Law student was charged with royal defamation and breaking into data on a computer system. The charges allege that the hacking of the computer system affects national security under the Computer Crimes Act, which is the same act that outlaws online defamation.

According to Prachatai English, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said that he was arrested back in June 2021 and was accused of sharing at least three Facebook posts claiming that Thailand’s Head of State suffered from certain diseases. In one of his posts, he shared a photo of the Head of State, along with a message saying that “this is this year’s corrupt person.”

Another shared post allegedly contained photos of other members of the royal family while claiming a female member had Covid-19.

The inquiring officer stated that his Facebook posts were insulting towards the Head of State. Currently, Aukit is allegedly detained at Bangkok Remand Prison while he awaits the outcome of his bail request that was forwarded to the Appeals Court. Aukit was reportedly sentenced to three years in prison for each of the five counts of royal defamation. It is not clear how many years he was sentenced to regarding his violation of the Computer Crimes Act.

Regardless, the Court reduced his sentence to one year and six months for each count as he confessed. His new jail term is reportedly seven years and six months. As he has never been sentenced to prison, the Court did have the option of suspending his sentence based on his history. But, the Court chose to uphold the sentence, saying that he committed a serious offence by causing the public to misunderstand the monarchy, inciting hatred of the monarchy, and damaging the monarchy’s reputation.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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