Former Future Forward leader Thanathorn faces new lese majeste charges

PHOTO: Flickr/Prachathai

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, is facing new trouble with 2 new lese majeste charges. The charges come from statements he made months ago about AstraZeneca being produced domestically in Thailand by Siam Bioscience, a company wholly owned by a subsidiary of Crown Property Bureau. Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, makes it an offence to insult, defame, or criticise the monarchy and carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Thanathorn had previously faced lese majeste charges over similar subject matter in March from when he spoke in a live Facebook stream in January questioning the wisdom of putting all of Thailand’s vaccination hopes in the hands of one company.

In responding to reporters, Thanathorn insists he was merely questioning the government’s process and didn’t say anything that would defame the monarchy. The government attempted to ban and remove the live stream but their efforts were rejected by the Criminal Court.

A lawyer for the former leader said that the new charges from the same January 18 Facebook live stream where he criticised the government’s handling of vaccines in Thailand. Just 10 days ago police in Phahon Yothin called on Thanathorn to appear and face another lese majeste charge filed by a legal advisor for Palang Pracharat, the ruling party in power now. He believes those charges are also related to his strong stance against the government’s handling of vaccine procurement and distribution, but the exact details of those charges were unclear.

In a Twitter post, he vowed to come to Thailand and address the charges after an event abroad he is currently participating in. Thanathorn is in France now, participating in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a foot race marathon taking place from August 23 to August 29, in which the former leader is representing the country of Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.