Thailand's king pardons US man for insult

2012-07-11 09:04
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Thailand's king has pardoned a US citizen who was jailed for two and a half years last December for insulting the monarchy, a case that prompted rare US criticism of its Southeast Asian ally, and calls for it to respect freedom of expression.

Thai-born Lerpong Wichaikhammat, aged 55, also known as Joe Gordon, had pleaded guilty to using the internet to spread information that insulted the monarchy, charges stemming from material posted on his blog in the United States.

"Joe Gordon was granted a royal pardon and released from jail on Tuesday night," Walter Braunohler, a spokesperson at the USembassy in Bangkok, said on Wednesday.

The case highlighted Thailand's extensive use of the world's most draconian lese-majeste laws to stamp out even the faintest criticism of 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch.

Human rights groups had hoped Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, some of whose party members are among those accused of lese-majeste, would reform the law after winning the election last year. But she is treading carefully, aware that her opponents in the military and royalist establishment could seize on any hint of disloyalty to the monarchy to bring her down.

"We urge Thai authorities on a regular basis, both privately and publicly, to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with international obligations," embassy spokesperson Braunohler said.

Uncle SMS


Lerpong had translated material from a book about the king that is banned in Thailand, and made it available online.

US embassy officials could not say whether he would now return to the United States.

Foreigners found guilty of lese-majeste or insulting the monarchy under a computer crimes law are generally given a royal pardon after serving part of their sentence. A guilty plea at trial tends to help that process.

Lerpong's pardon comes two months after a Thai man, Amphon Tangnoppaku, died in jail while serving a 20-year sentence after being found guilty of sending text messages deemed threatening to and disrespectful of Queen Sirikit. He denied the charges.

The death of Amphon, nicknamed "Uncle SMS" by the media, stirred debate over the severity of sentences handed down to those found guilty of insulting the monarchy, with critics saying the law is abused to discredit activists and politicians.

Thailand's monarch, regarded as almost divine by many in the majority Buddhist country, is in poor health and has been in hospital for almost three years.

His health and succession are sensitive topics. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has yet to command the same respect as his father.

Read more on:    thailand
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.