Thai editor faces defamation charges

Bangkok

A Thai magazine editor faces defamation charges for sharing a student’s “disrespectful” picture of historic kings wearing facemasks on Facebook to highlight air pollution in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
The governor of Chiang Mai province PawinChamniprasarsaid that he believed PimKemasingki, editor of the Chiang Mai City Life magazine, had breached the Computer Crime Act by sharing the picture.
In a letter to police, he wrote that the kings are worshipped and respected in Chiang Mai and “using the picture with the three kings wearing masks is disrespectful.”
Thailand’s cybercrime law, which criminalizes defamation and obscenity, has been widely criticized by international rights groups for curtailing freedom of expression.
Pim, a Thai-British national, said the image of the three statues wearing masks had been shared on a Facebook page publicizing a “Right to Breathe” anti-air pollution rally that had later been canceled at the request of the governor.“I shared this picture thinking it was pertinent and powerful,” Pim added. AchariyaRuangrattanapong, a lawyer for Pim, said he was confident that sharing the picture was not a violation of the cybercrime law. “How can this be a computer crime if it involves a picture that a child drew?” he said.—TNS

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