Joe Gordon released on Royal pardon-PPT
July 17, 2012
[FACT comments: We wouldn’t blame Joe Gordon for turning his back on Thailand. Unlike other foreign lèse majesté convicts, Thai govt has always treated Joe as Thai and therefore cannot deport him. We’d really like him to stay and campaign against censorship and injustice.]
Political Prisoners in Thailand: July 11, 2012
Earlier PPT posted that Twitter, Facebook and emails are flying about suggesting that lese majeste convict Joe Gordon has been released. More details were promised.
Here’s a list of stories that have appeared. In reading them, it needs to be remembered that Joe was essentially forced to plead guilty to lese majeste but never admitted the offense as charged. Even if he had, translating a legal book in the U.S. was not illegal. In essence, the Thai government made a legal act in another country illegal in Thailand. One journalist reports that the pardon was related to a fear that the case would be raised at an ASEAN meeting:
AFP – Joe Wichai Commart Gordon, a car salesman from Colorado, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in December under the kingdom’s strict lese majeste laws, which rights campaigners say are used to stifle freedom of expression.
The Irrawaddy News Magazine - Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is revered in Thailand and is widely seen as a stabilizing force. But Thailand’s lese majeste laws are the harshest in the world.
Reuters India - 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.
The Guardian – The Thai government would be keen to avoid attention being drawn to Gordon, who was first detained in May 2011, and others who have fallen foul of lèse majesté laws.
The Australian – There was no immediate word on Gordon’s whereabouts or whether he would return to the US. Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is revered in Thailand and is widely seen as a stabilizing force [repeating the usual nonsense].
Asian Correspondent – Bangkok Pundit blogged on the Thai-born naturalized American citizen Joe Gordon who was arrested in May 2011 on lese majeste charges, then later blogged when the US expressed disappointment when he was actually charged in …
BBC News – Strict Thai laws against defaming the monarchy allow for sentences of up to 15 years in prison. No reason was given for the pardon….
Bloomberg – A Thai group submitted a bill to Parliament in May to amend the law with 30000 signatures from members of the public, reflecting growing opposition to the statute even as political parties decline to endorse changes.
CNN International – The charge of writing and posting articles insulting the monarchy under the Southeast Asian country’s lese majeste laws can yield a sentence as high as 20 years in prison in the Buddhist country….
Voice of America – “We urge Thai authorities on a regular basis, both privately and publicly, here in Bangkok and also in Washington to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with international obligations.”
Aljazeera.com – He was detained in May last year during a visit to Thailand, where he had returned for medical treatement. After being repeatedly denied bail, Gordon pleaded guilty in October in hopes of obtaining a lenient sentence.
Deutsche Welle – In the book, author Paul M. Handley alleges that the king has hindered progress towards democracy in Thailand by the consolidation of royal power. Under the country’s “lese majeste” laws, anybody found guilty of insulting key figures in the royal family….