Day Five – Free speech on trial in Thailand, postponed

February 12, 2011

Police scientist testifies for prosecution

The fifth day of trial continued on Friday for independent news portal Prachatai’s webmaster, Chiranuch Premchaiporn independent news portal Prachatai’s webmaster in Bangkok’s Criminal Court.

Chiranuch is charged with ten violations of Thailand’s draconian Computer Crimes Act for alleged lèse majesté. Each count carries a potential sentence of five years imprisonment.

Colonel Dr. Wiwat Sidhisoradej is a police scientist and has a doctoral degree in physics from Chulalongkorn University appearing for the prosecution.

He copied Chiranuch’s laptop hard disk seized by the police on March 6, 2009 for forensic analysis. Using software developed for the US FBI, he discovered eight modified photos of King Bhumibol to provide the monarch a monkey face which had been deleted from the trash.

These photos must have come from a YouTube video insulting the king. In any case, Chiranuch is not charged with these photos but they were used to set the stage for her accusers.

The police scientist also found eight postings to Prachatai in two folders named ‘Prachatai Webboard’. Although the laptop disk arrived with an evidence sticker, it was unsigned, making verification and continuity of evidence impossible.

Furthermore, the transfer disk provided Wiwat was unsealed, suggesting it was not a new disk and raising the possibility it may have been used in other investigations leaving potentially incriminating artifacts.

The lieutenant worked alone without supervision from other police. Normally, police evidence is printed to use as evidence in court. However, Dr. Wiwat felt such copying would put him in violation of lèse majesté laws himself. He also declined to repeat this information in his report.

He found no evidence that either the deleted images or the eight postings had been created or posted from Chiranuch’s computer.

The most interesting part of the police scientist’s testimony was regarding the way email works. Thunderbird, an offline email client similiar to Microsoft’s Outlook application was found on Jiew’s laptop. As offline clients are set to default save incoming emails and their attachments to disk.

Dr. Wiwat readily conceded the probability that the images and postings were received by Chiranuch in email and were not redistributed by her.

The police witness was shown a report from a lèse majesté seminar held at Thammasat University in 2008. Dr. Wiwat also conceded that statements calling for amendment or repeal of Thailand’s lèse majesté laws used in postings may have come from this document.

Although the police scientist found some of the postings to contain language he considered impolite, he found no direct mentions of the monarchy. Col. Wiwat said that a computer user could not be in violation for simply receiving these emails.

The witness also found no links to Prachatai by IP address meaning Jiew’s laptop was not the server for Prachatai’s webboard.

Pol. Col. Dr. Wiwat was the fifth government witness, leaving nine more for the prosecution. As it became obvious trial would not be completed by the end of next week, a decision was made to adjourn for a later date.

Chiranuch’s trial will resume Thursday, September 1st and continue on Sept 2nd, 6th through 9th, 20th and 21st to hear nine remaining prosecution witnesses. The defence will begin on  Tuesday, October 11th through 14th to hear eight witnesses.

An after-party was held at the Prachatai offices for friends and supporters, legal and media observers, thus this late posting. Our toast was:


CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

17 Responses to “Day Five – Free speech on trial in Thailand, postponed”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FACT, StrontiumDog. StrontiumDog said: RT @facthai: Day Five – Free speech on trial in Thailand, postponed […]

  2. wiwat Says:

    Dear Editor,

    Please, my rank is Police Colonel , not Lt.


  3. Please refer to

    I set up this group to discuss the issue of Thainess specifically. Anyone interested in commenting, raising points, offering references, etc., is kindly invited to “drop by.”

    Locally here in Korat, by the way, I was told – I believe I alluded to this before – that Prachatai was viewed as having many enemies. While bad news re. censorship and criminal proceedings – very serious – it is also a compliment in terms of the content of material that appears on Prachatai pages. The material is not just thought-provoking, but illuminating and promotes needed discussion.
    That anyone should choose to have the website’s administrator imprisoned is a reflection on “Thainess” that itself needs to face reform.

    All the best, Chiranuch, and other Thais and expatriates who stand up against a continuing oppressive onslaught of outdated and ignorance-plated officialdom.

    Frank G Anderson

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