Bail granted to reporter and photographer accused of supporting political activist

The Criminal Court yesterday granted bail to a Thai news reporter from the Prachathai News Agency and a freelance photographer who were charged with covering the story of a political activist last year.

Prachathai news agency reporter Nuttaphol Meksobhon and freelance photographer Nuttaphol Phanpongsanon were arrested on February 12. They were accused of supporting an action to damage the country’s historic sites after reporting the story of a Thai political activist, 24 year old Sutthawee Soikham, spraying the wall of Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace on March 28, 2023.

The two denied the allegation, saying they did not support the action but were carrying out their duties as journalists. They were held overnight at Chalongkrung and Tung Song Hong Police Station for a night before being transferred to the Criminal Court yesterday, February 13.

The Thai Journalists Association stepped forward to seek justice for the two journalists asking the court to grant bail and allow the two suspects to clarify and prove that they performed journalism duties for the public interest following professional ethics.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) later reported that the Criminal Court granted the two journalists bail of 35,000 baht each and they were released yesterday evening.

The two gave an interview with the media outside the court wearing white T-shirts with the message, “JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME.”

Following his release, freelance photographer Nuttaphol expressed confidence in his ability to prove his innocence. He told KhaoSod that he diligently fulfilled his duties as a journalist and did not endorse the alleged detrimental actions he was accused of.

Nuttaphol acknowledged his previous interactions with political activist Sutthawee but maintained that he viewed them purely as a journalistic endeavour, refraining from discussions about specific activities. He clarified that he became aware of the event merely 10 minutes before its commencement through information shared by fellow reporters.

Emphasising his role as a reporter for the Prachathai news agency, Nuttaphol reiterated that his presence at the scene was solely to gather news and not to lend support to the activity in question. He asserted his lack of detailed knowledge about the event and affirmed his commitment to seeking justice through legal channels.


UPDATE: Reporter, photographer arrested for covering political activist news

Officers from Phrarachawang Police Station arrested a reporter and a freelance photographer from the Prachathai news agency for covering the story of the political activist who sprayed number 112 and an anarchy symbol on the wall of Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace last year.

The 24 year old political activist, Sutthawee Soikham, was arrested in March last year after expressing his opinion on Section 112 of the Criminal Law, also known as the lese majeste law, by spraying number 112 and the anarchy symbol on the wall of Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. A 14 year old girl who was recording and livestreaming the activity for Sutthawee was also arrested at the time.

Several Thai and international news agencies reported on the activities. A news reporter from Prachathai news agency, Nuttaphol Meksobhon, was one of the reporters who covered the activist story and provided an update on the case.

Unexpectedly, Nuttaphol was arrested by the Phrarachawang Police Station officers yesterday, February 12, for reporting on the political activist’s activities about eight months ago. He was accused of supporting an action that damaged the country’s historical sites.

Prachathai reported that Nuttaphol had never known that his name was on an arrest warrant and had never been summoned for questioning before his arrest.

The media added that a freelance photographer was also arrested yesterday near Sutthi Wararam Temple in the Charoenkrung neighbourhood of Bangkok for taking pictures of the painted wall.

The executive editor of Prachathai news agency, Thewarit Maneechai, told other media outlets that the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) came forward to handle the case. Thewarit said the arrest was unreasonable as Nuttaphol and the photographer were simply carrying out their journalistic duties.

The TLHR said last night that Nuttaphol was detained at Chalongkrung Police Station, and the freelance photographer was detained at Tung Song Hong Police Station. The two were due to be transferred to the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road today, February 3.



ORIGINAL STORY: Man charged for spray-painting on Wat Phra Kaew wall

A Thai man was arrested yesterday after he protested against the lese majeste law by spraying the number 112 and an anarchy symbol on the wall of Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. A 14 year old girl who operated the camera while livestreaming the man’s graffiti on social media was also detained.

The Twitter account of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) posted a picture and video of the moment when Royal Palace Police Station officers arrested the man, identified as 24 year old Sutthawee Soikham, in front of Wat Phra Kaew at 5.40pm.

Pictures and a video show one police officer forcibly pressing Sutthawee’s head to the ground while his hands are in handcuffs. The wall behind him reveals the anarchy symbol and the number 112 which is crossed out. The number 112 is in reference to Section 112 also known as the lese majeste law.

Sutthawee is reported to be a member of the Free Arts group, which comprises several Thai artists who express their political opinions through their artwork.

According to the TLHR, Sutthawee was taken to the Royal Palace Police Station for prosecution. The 14 year old girl who recorded Sutthawee’s graffiti was not charged but later followed her friend to the police station and was held.

TLHR reported that the girl was charged with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Law in January. She is reportedly the youngest person ever to be charged under the lese majeste law.

The police questioned both suspects until 10pm before they issued two charges against them including:

  • Section 32 of the Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museum Act: damaging, destroying, or causing depreciation in value to the ancient monument. The punishment will be imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to 700,000 baht, or both
  • Section 12 of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the City Act: scratching, writing, and spray painting walls along public roads or public places. The punishment will be a fine of up to 5,000 baht

Wat Phra Kaew is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok. The temple is considered one of the most sacred and important temples in Thailand. The temple is home to the Emerald Buddha statue made of green jade, which is highly respected by locals.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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