[FACT comments: You’d have to be plain crazy to pop the bird at the King…or even his visage. Thai courts won’t buy the truth; can they be expected to take bona fide medical reasons into consideration?]

Woman to face royal insult charge pending mental examination

The Nation: July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Woman-to-face-royal-insult-charge-pending-mental-e-30186512.html

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung on Thursday confirmed police would charge a woman accused of insulting the monarchy if she was found to be sane in the mental status examination.

“I confirm police will legal action,” he said, dismissing speculation about police inaction.

On Friday, Thitinan Juntaranont, Thai expatriate from New Zealand and seen as a red shirt, defiled the picture of the King displayed at the multi-colour shirt rally during the Constitution Court verdict session on charter change.

Policemen promptly intervened to escort her from the scene and refused to press charge on grounds for suspected insanity.

A number of activists stepped forward to criticise police for drawing a hasty conclusion before sending the accused for psychological evaluation.

On Tuesday following the spread of messages in the social media, a number of Thais rallied at Suvarnabhumi Airport in a bid prevent Thitinan from boarding a flight to Auckland.

Police subsequently clarified that Thitinan was admitted to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute to undergo mental tests.

 

Woman held for making rude gestures

The Nation July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Woman-held-for-making-rude-gestures-30186466.html

 

City police have assigned a team to look into allegations that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, a 63-year-old New Zealand resident, had made an improper gesture toward an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on Friday, Metropolitan Police deputy commander Pol Maj-General Anuchai Lekbumrung said yesterday.

The woman, who was born in Thailand, was stopped from boarding a flight to Auckland and is currently being detained at the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

Thitinant will face lese majeste charges, though a psychiatrist will also determine the state of her mind, he said. She reportedly has a history of mental illness and had undergone treatment at Sri Thanya Hospital.

Meanwhile, Immigration Police Office 2 commander Pol Maj-General Natthorn Phrosunthorn said that Thitinant’s name was not included in the list of those leaving the country nor was there an arrest warrant out for her. However, he added, that police had notified his office at 4pm yesterday to stop her from leaving the country. He said Thitinant’s two relatives were able to travel to Auckland as normal.

Amornrat Mahitthirook

Bangkok Post: July 18, 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/302972/lese-majeste-suspect-admitted-to-hospital

A New Zealand-resident Thai woman accused of a lese majeste offence did not show up for a flight to Auckland yesterday after police admitted her to hospital.

 Self-appointed yellow shirt vigilantes showed up at the airport, supposedly to ensure that Thitinant Kaewchantranont (inset) did not leave for New Zealand. [Post Today]

About 200 people had turned up at Suvarnabhumi airport to protest against her possible departure.

Protesters picketed outside the airport after learning that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, 63, was due to check in for a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight to Auckland.

Danuj Bunnag, managing director for THAI’s ground services business unit, said Ms Thitinant did not arrive at Suvarnabhumi to check in for the flight, although her husband, a New Zealand national, did get on board.

Ms Thitinant has a history of mental illness.

Thung Song Hong police in Bangkok, who have lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.

 Thitinant: History of mental illness

She has since been referred to the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

She was admitted to the hospital on Friday last week after allegedly making an improper gesture towards an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on the same day.

Police said that if Ms Thitinant had shown up at the airport, officers would have prevented her from boarding, as they believed she was unfit to leave the country.

A THAI source said the plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Ms Thitinant was on board, arguing the woman could pose a security risk.

Protesters left the airport after they were told Ms Thitinant had not turned up for the flight and was being assessed at a hospital.

 

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: There is a plot! The court is telling an accused he can’t plead not guilty! Unbelievable… The goal is obviously conviction at all costs.]

LESE MAJESTY LAW

Court defers lese majeste case, defence advised

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation:July 20, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Court-defers-lese-majeste-case-defence-advised-30186584.html

 

Ekachai Hongkangwan’s lese majeste trial has been deferred to mid-November after judges advised the defendant to change his plea by saying that he had no intention to defame the monarchy but that he merely wanted to share information.

One of the two presiding judges said the defendant did not necessarily have to prove if the information was factual or not. “Because if it is true, it is more defamatory and if it isn’t true, then it’s super defamatory,” Judge Aphisit Veeramitchai explained to lawyer Arnon Nampha and the defendant yesterday. “So proving whether the information is factual or not will not be beneficial to you at all… You have to consider this yourself.”

The judge went on to say that the prosecutors were not out to prove if the information provided in a Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary or on a WikiLeaks cable was factual or not. “They say the content defames [the monarchy],” he said.

However, in his rebuttal, Arnon said that he and his client still wanted to prove the factuality of the information referred to in the documentary, which led to Ekachai’s arrest. Police arrested Ekachai on March 10 last year after he was caught carrying two sets of WikiLeaks diplomatic cable papers as well as peddling unauthorised CDs of the ABC documentary at Bt20 apiece. He was released on bail nine days later.

Arnon told the judges that he had already filed three court requests to summon Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda and Councillor Sith Savetsila to explain their remarks on the future of the monarchy that were referred to in the WikiLeaks papers. He went on to say that he personally believed that Prem and Sith would be truthful about whether the information attributed to them on WikiLeaks was indeed a fact.

After nearly 30 minutes of consultation and 20 minutes of recess, all sides agreed that the trial should be deferred to November and that the defence would focus on proving that Ekachai had no intention to defame the Crown Prince or the monarchy.

However, the defence lawyer said he reserved the right to have the court summon Prem and Sith in case the prosecution still wished to prove the factuality of the information. The court has also accepted the defence lawyer’s request to seek a Constitution Court ruling as to whether or not the lese majeste law contradicts the Constitution because Arnon’s argument is that it violates freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old Ekachai said he still wants to prove that none of the information provided in the documentary or the WikiLeaks papers was provided with malicious intent.

The former lottery agent went on to say that it was imperative for Prem and Sith to testify, adding “I don’t think I will get away by trying to fight on the basis of my intention”.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation: July 18, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Lese-majeste-trial-begins-of-man-caught-selling-de-30186379.html

 

The lese majeste trial of Ekachai Hongkangwan, a man arrested for peddling pirated copies of a news documentary produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about the future of the Thai monarchy and the lese majeste law began yesterday.

Ekachai, who is in his thirties, said he hoped to establish the fact that the video, along with two manuscripts of WikiLeaks cables he is being charged for under the lese majeste law were factual and did not constitute defamation of the monarchy.

He was arrested on March 10 last year for selling pirated CD copies of the ABC documentary for Bt20 each and detained for nine days before being released on bail.

“I don’t think the content is defamatory,” he told The Nation just before the trial began.

Ekachai hoped that the ABC, which is funded by the Australian government, would issue a statement stating that the documentary, which he illicitly copied and peddled, did not contain anything fabricated, non-factual or defamatory.

No correspondents from the ABC were present at the trial yesterday, which Ekachai said suggested made him feel that they lacked “compassion”. However, Zoe Daniel, the ABC’s Bangkok-based Southeast Asia correspondent, tweeted yesterday that she was in India and unable to cover the trial.

Ekachai handed The Nation a copy of an e-mail from the ABC dated August 15 last year, stating that it was not in a position to assist and that the programme was made for an Australian audience.

“We did not in any way encourage people to take the type of action that you say you took. In fact, that action breached the ABC’s copyright in the programme,” wrote Rob Simpson, the ABC director for Legal and Business Affairs. “In these circumstances the ABC will not be providing any statements. There should be no further need to contact the ABC. In particular, you should not contact any of our staff in Thailand as they have had nothing to do with the programme.”

The only sympathy from the ABC was one polite sentence from Simpson saying: “I am sorry to hear the issues that you face.”

At the beginning of the trial yesterday the presiding judges wanted to hold the trial in camera but The Nation objected, saying it was constitutional and that holding a trial in secret was contrary to standard legal procedure in democratic countries. The judges eventually allowed observers to remain but the video was not shown.

Police Lieut Major Somyot Udomraksasab, who ordered the arrest of Ekachai, stood as one of two prosecution witnesses yesterday. He said he believed the ABC report, which contains video footage involving HRH the Crown Prince, was defamatory. Somyot also testified that he believed that WikiLeaks texts claiming to refer to words by leading Thai politicians such as the late prime minister Samak Sundaravej, former premier Anand Panyarachun and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanond also contained defamatory remarks about the monarchy.

Ekachai’s defence lawyer Arnon Nampha tried to dwell on the facts of some of the information deemed as defamatory – whether it was true or not. But the judges told him they were not out to prove whether the alleged defamatory statements in the video and texts were accurate in reality or not.

“Whether it’s true or not, if you prove it, what will be gained from it?” one of the presiding judges said to Arnon.

Suluck Lamubol

Prachatai: July 18, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3297

First day of trial of Akachai H., the Australian documentary CD and Wikileaks seller, begins at Ratchada Criminal Court today. In May 2011, the 36-year-old legal lottery vendor was accused of breaching Article 112 of the Criminal Code, better known as the lese majesty law, and Article 54 of the Film and Video Act for selling VCDs of documentary produced by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) without license. The VCDs contain moving images of persons similar to HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and HRH Princess Srirasmi.

Lt Col Somyot Udomraksasap, police officer from Chana Songkhram Police Station who arrested Akachai testified today, stating that the defendant was lured to sell the VCDs to the police before they arrested him. Information from iLaw freedom database, a documentation of freedom of expression cases, stated that the police were able to seize evidence containing more than 100 VCDs, a CD burner and 10 copies of translated version of US embassy cables published by Wikileaks.

The Wikileaks cables belonging to Akachai allegedly contains conversation of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, member of Privy Council Siddhi Savetsila and Head of Privy Council Prem Tinasulanonda about the circumstances of 2006 coup.

Lt Col Somyot testified that after Akachai got arrested, he admitted that he possessed the VCDs of ABC documentary and Wikileaks documents, but pleaded not guilty under Article 112 as charged by the police, as he believed that the improper information only concerns with HRH Princess Srirasmi, not HRH Crown Prince. The Police also said that the defendant said he merely had intention to distribute well-rounded information to the public.

His lawyer, Anon Nampha, said he would file petition to constitutional court tomorrow to have Article 112 considered whether it’s contradicting to Article 45 of Thailand’s Constitution which stipulates that “a person shall enjoy the liberty to express his or her opinion, make speeches, write, print, publicize and make expression by other means.”

Just Tear the Pages Out

Rachel

Tea Leaf Nation: July 9, 2012

http://tealeafnation.com/2012/07/how-to-censor-the-economist-in-shanghai-just-tear-the-pages-out/

 

 [The Economist]

Censorship can be complex and nuanced, or it can be simple and clean; those in charge of Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport’s bookshop clearly subscribe to the purist school.

On July 8, @Harvey-Hui-Wu reported on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter,

“Nowadays speech is so harmonious! I bought an issue of the Economist at [Shanghai's] Hongqiao Airport and wanted to read the articles on China, but found that all articles in that section were torn out! I was so angry and ran back to the bookstore to complain. The clerk said this is how the airport treats the magazine when new stock comes in, and showed me the rest of the Economists at the bookstore. Surely enough, all of them had no China section. I was speechless!” [1]

For those wondering which articles were affected, @Harvey-Hui-Wu responded in his next tweet, “China’s security state and Hong Kong’s democrats! My guess is that customs people specialize in tearing out the China section.” [2] @Better-Ian thinks it is a special case, “I think it might be the airport’s doing. The issues I see in our provincial library and local library all have the China section.” [3]

Most commenters on Sina Weibo ridiculed the censorship; others shared their experiences. @智圣Wisaint tweets, “I subscribe to the Asia edition of Time. Articles on China are torn out and issues with covers about China are just not distributed. Sometimes you can see topics on China in the Briefing section. The censors don’t read the magazines that closely.” [4] @无翼的雀仔X agrees, “That’s very normal. When you watch news broadcast from Hong Kong in Guangdong, you often get three or four blackouts during one segment.” [5]

@谷大白话 added, “All words and phrases related to Tibet are blacked out with markers in the Merriam Webster dictionaries sold online.” [6] @刘庆东 offers some advice to the censors, “These people still don’t do their jobs right. Should black out all the article titles from the table of content, so the readers won’t even know what you had torn out.” [7]

Perhaps editors of the Economist can take (cold) comfort in the fact that Michelangelo’s timeless work suffers a similar fate. @Gucci小古 reports that CCTV news censored a certain body part of the statue David-Apollo in its news broadcast.

Press freedom publicity stunt leads to jail for website editor

Roy Greenslade

The Guardian: July 19, 2012

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/07/19/journalist-arrested-in-belarus-for-publishing-pictures-of-teddy-bears/

 

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable. Belarusian security agents have arrested a website editor for publishing photographs of teddy bears, such as the one above.

Anton  , who runs a site called Belarusian News Photos, carried the pictures on his site after the toys were airdropped over Minsk on 4 July. The bears were pinned with press freedom messages.

The airdrop was carried out by Studio Total, a Swedish advertising agency. On its website, it explains that it did so in order to highlight the international media’s neglect of press freedom violations in Belarus. It said it purchased a small plane and flew illegally to Belarus from neighbouring Lithuania.

That resulted last Friday in Suryapin being detained by members of the KGB, the nation’s security service, for alleged complicity in an illegal border crossing, a charge that can lead to a seven-year jail term.

Although the airdrop was widely reported in the regional media, Belarusian authorities have since denied it ever took place. The defence ministry told Interfax, the Russian news agency, that its experts had concluded that the photos and videos were fabricated and that the information about the stunt was false and a provocation.

If so, why arrest Suryapin for something that has supposedly never happened? Nina Ognianova, a coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists in Europe and central Asia, said: “Are Belarusian security agents worried that teddy bears are engaged in an illegal border crossing? It would be hard to keep a straight face about these absurd charges were it not for the fact that Anton Suryapin is sitting in jail.”

She added: “We call on authorities to immediately release Suryapin and drop these senseless criminal charges against him.”

Belarus is ranked 10th on the CPJ’s “10 most censored report”. Anti-press tactics by the country’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, have included the jailing of journalists, raids on newsrooms and the failure to investigate the murders of at least three journalists.

Sources:CPJ/Belarusian News Photos/Studio Total/Radio Liberty

PRNewsWire: July 17, 2012

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bartvpncom—a-guard-of-your-privacy—has-just-been-launched-162712416.html

Red Sky Ltd., the company that created FilesTube.com – one of the most popular file search engines in the world, just started a new project, created to protect Internet users’ anonymity and privacy. A Bart VPN service has launched, branded Bart the Guard – Privacy Hero.

After recent controversies over signing of the ACTA treaty, over arresting and prosecuting the founder of MegaUpload, and passing extremely rigorous regulations against Internet piracy in the United States, Red Sky launches a new VPN service: Bart VPN, branded Bart the Guard – Privacy Hero.

Bart VPN guarantees its users total Internet anonymity. Bart tightly guards online privacy: by changing visible IPs and tunneling all your communication through secure and stable servers located all around the world it effectively hides its users’ identities online. One of its many important features is the so called “P2P friendly” mode which allows safe and anonymous downloading of files wherever you are, even in countries like the United States.

BartVPN.com also guarantees its users safety while surfing online and using online services. As intended by its creators, Bart will ensure total anonymity when registering or logging to Internet services such as YouTube, Facebook, Hulu etc.

Bart has numerous significant advantages that makes it unique among other VPN Software. Using Bart the Guard lets you bypass any Internet geographical limitations and political restrictions. Its special privacy policy and using IP addresses in “P2P friendly” locations allow secure and anonymous file downloads. Bart VPN is compatible with every type of Internet connection and uses only high speed 100 Mb/s servers. It also offers unlimited transfer for every user and the ability to connect using 100 different IP addresses in 8 different countries (1000 IP addresses in 20 different countries in the near future).

While working on the application, creators of Bart the Guard emphasized simplicity. This is why the software is user friendly and easily accessible to everyone, including people with little knowledge about the Internet.

http://en.red-sky.pl/

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WikiLeaks ‘back open for donations’ after banking blockade

Agence France-Presse: July 19, 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/tech/computer/303153/wikileaks-back-open-for-donations-after-banking-blockade

Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said Wednesday that it had found a way to get around the banking blockade that has dramatically cut its donations over the last 18 months.

Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks said Wednesday that it had found a way to get around the banking blockade that has dramatically cut its donations over the last 18 months.

“After almost two years of fighting an unlawful banking blockade by US financial giants VISA and MasterCard, WikiLeaks has announced it is back open for donations,” the website said in a statement.

It aims to use Carte Bleue, a French affiliate of Visa, to beat the blockade and raise a million euros ($1.2 million), which it says it needs immediately if the website set up by Julian Assange is to continue operating.

“VISA and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system,” the website said.

“WikiLeaks advises all global supporters to make use of this avenue immediately before VISA/MasterCard attempts to shut it down.”

Visa and MasterCard banned payments to WikiLeaks in December 2010 along with other money transfer companies including PayPal and Western Union, forcing the website to drastically scale back its publication of secret documents.

The blockade was introduced when WikiLeaks began publishing 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables, embarrassing Washington and governments around the world. The website said it had cut off more than 95 percent of its donations.

WikiLeaks claims the blockade has cost it more than $20 million (16 million euros) and left it covering just 21 percent of its operating costs for 2011.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after an Icelandic court ruled last week that Valitor, the company formerly known as Visa Iceland that handles Visa and MasterCard payments in the country, must allow payments to WikiLeaks.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 19, seeking political asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes.

The Australian ex-computer hacker said in a statement: “We beat them in Iceland and, by God, we’ll beat them in France as well.

“Let them shut it down. Let them demonstrate to the world once again their corrupt pandering to Washington. We’re waiting. Our lawyers are waiting.”

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

UAE activist expelled to Thailand faces close watch

Nutthathirataa Withitwinyuchon & Ezra Kyrill Erker

Bangkok Post: July 18, 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/302978/uae-activist-expelled-to-thailand-faces-close-watch

Authorities will keep a close watch on a prominent human rights activist whose expulsion from the United Arab Emirates to Thailand yesterday has attracted international criticism.

Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the ministry was aware that Abd al-Khaleq, 35, had left Dubai and arrived in Thailand on a 60-day tourist visa.

“To my understanding, the Thai embassy in the UAE never contacted the Foreign Ministry [regarding the case]. The ministry noticed that the man is considered as a threat to the UAE’s internal security,” Mr Sek said, adding the case will not affect Thai-UAE ties.

Mr Sek said the ministry had yet to contact human rights organisations involved in the case but would closely monitor Mr Khaleq to ensure he does not overstay his visa.

His expulsion has been criticised by both human rights activists and his family for its unusual circumstances.

He belongs to the stateless Bidun (meaning “without”) minority who are denied passports, making it impossible for them to leave the UAE.

Mr Khaleq ran a blog, Emaraty Bedoon, that highlights the plight of stateless residents.

He is one of the UAE 5, a group of activists who spent eight months in jail last year before being pardoned. He was arrested again and had been detained since May 22.

He was told he would be deported to Pakistan, Iran, India, Bangladesh or Thailand, and he chose the latter, even though the kingdom is not a signatory to the UN conventions on refugees or stateless people.

Mr Khaleq, whose name is also spelled Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, entered Thailand on a passport for the Comoros Islands, a country he has never visited or has any association with.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, considers it a tactic to silence dissenting voices.

“UAE authorities are trying to make it appear as though Abd al-Khaleq is choosing to leave the country of his own volition, but this is a cruel and unlawful expulsion by duress, plain and simple,” she said.

According to Human Rights Watch, Mr Khaleq’s father was asked by prison officials to buy a plane ticket and apply for a Thai tourist visa for his son.

Asked what the Thai government would do if the man overstays, Mr Sek said the ministry would work with the Immigration Office to have him expelled to the Comoros Islands.

An official at the ministry’s visa and travel documents division confirmed that the division has never been contacted by the Thai embassy in the UAE.

Normal procedure for Thai embassies in uncertain visa cases would be to contact the ministry and the division.

Samer Muscati, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who has followed the issue and met Mr Khaleq recently, said: “We haven’t seen any statements from Thailand or the UAE about this case, so I don’t know what type of arrangement there is between the two countries.

“He’s never left the country before and it’s overwhelming for him, especially given that he’s spent the last two months in prison.

“I think he’ll always advocate for the human rights of stateless persons in the UAE _ he is a determined activist who has sacrificed so much already. If the UAE authorities hoped to silence him by expelling him, I think they will be disappointed.”

Before boarding his flight, Mr Khaleq told The Independent: “They are afraid because I’m speaking up for my rights and many people like me don’t have a nationality. If I have committed a crime, then take me to court, but to have to leave my home, this is not fair.”

Refugees International says 10,000 to 100,000 Bidun live in the UAE, many in poverty.

 

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