FACTorial: Free Joe Gordon! Linking to websites is not a crime!

June 19, 2011


FREE JOE GORDON NOW!

A quick Google search for สวรรค์ในอก นรกในใจ reveals more than a million search results. Not surprising, considering The King Never Smiles is one of Thailand’s most controversial banned books.

We have observed that the complete The King Never Smiles in unofficial—that is, not sanctioned by author or publisher—Thai translation has been widely available on the Web at multiple hosting sites since at least 2007. Naturally, we monitor such censorship issues and can confirm that none of the sites hosting such translations have ever been blocked in Thailand by govt’s Internet censors.

It would certainly not be a stretch to say that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of copies of สวรรค์ในอก นรกในใจ have been downloaded and read by Thais. FACT has identified at least 14 different free download repositories hosting the book in Thai.

Top among search results is Thai TKNS http://sites.google.com/site/thaitkns/ which contains introductory analysis by “นายสิน แซ่จิ้ว” [Nai Sin Sae-Jew] C.A., U.S.A. but hosts only the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 22, in Thai translation.

We were unable to locate any ‘download link’ to the complete book at this website. In any case, it must be irrefutably proven that Joe Gordon and “Nai Sin Sae-Jew” are the same person. “C.A.” is probably intended to mean California; it is certainly not CO, Colorado, where Joe Gordon lives. We doubt the DSI and MICT have done their homework on this case.

The website is also not blocked in Thailand despite the arrest of its alleged webmaster for its content. Is Thai govt more afraid of citizens or actual content?

There is another website using the same hosting devoted to The King Never Smiles in Thai translation. We think it quite probable this was actually the website Thai govt meant to target. They have made such mistakes before, and frequently. Joe Gordon, however, was an irresistible victim for Thailand. Born Thai and conveniently here.

 Only 42% of Thais think the Internet is a safe place to express opinions. (UNESCO/BBC)

In a later announcement, Thai police stated that Joe Gordon was webmaster for NorPorChor USA’s website. Wait just a minute here! Wasn’t Kenny, Tantawut Taweewarodomkul, convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison March 15 for that very ‘crime’?!? So who is really NorPorChor’s webmaster? Accusing Joe Gordon throws Kenny’s conviction into serious question and makes likely grounds for a legal appeal.

The complete book,  The King Never Smiles, in Thai is still available in PDF format by chapters on the ‘net with a little bit of digging and is still unblocked as of this writing. FACT has never seen a print version, unlike The Devil’s Discus published and banned in 1964 which is enjoying a revival with at least two versions in print in reproduction of the 1977 Thammasat University Political Science Students edition.

In fact, it’s hard to find any educated Thai who has not read The King Never Smiles in English, the books carried in from abroad.

It would be difficult for Thai govt to posit TKNS as lèse majesté as it would appear Thailand’s military fiat govt banned the book by its title alone without ever having read it. The King Never Smiles should be required reading for the judges in this most recent lèse majesté case. In fact, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand offers to provide them copies!

Most of us will shrug and laugh at such nonsense but now we find 54-year old expatriate Thai Joe Gordon, born Lerpong Wichaikhammat, facing serious prison time for lèse majesté, ‘inciting unrest and disobedience of the law in public’ and ‘disseminating computer data which threatens national security’. A further ‘national security’ charge was added subsequently. These all sound like trumped-up charges, as per usual govt practice. In fact, it would appear the suspect content was posted four years ago.

The arrest of Joe Gordon for a book which threatens national security should come as no surprise. Joe made the critical mistake of thinking Thailand had a free Internet.

To deny Joe Gordon bail, twice so far, despite posting a Bt.1.7 million ($56,000 USD), shows govt lack of good faith in its citizens. Denying an accused bail is tantamount to crippling efforts at mounting an effective defence. The police confirm Khun Joe was not planning on returning to the US until December so he obviously was not running from Thai laws. Not to mention that it is completely ludicrous to call the accused ‘a threat to national security’! We think the US govt should put up Joe’s bail, an offer no Thai court could refuse, and put its money where its mouth is.

As Bangkok Pundit puts it:

“It is easy to imagine this story being picked up in the US given he is a US citizen [FACT: See the int’l press coverage this arrest has generated so far — http://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/concern-on-american-lese-majeste-arrest/]…He may face multiple *charges* of lese majeste beyond 15 years.

If he denies the charges and pleads not guilty, then it could be a very messy trial if the trial is held in camera (i.e in secret). How will US Senators, other lawmakers, opinion-makers, and others respond?* This has the makings of being the most high profile lese majeste arrest given the citizenship of the the person arrested and particularly if he pleads not guilty.”

 ***

Thailand has insisted on charging US citizen Joe Gordon as a Thai using his Thai birth name. The intent may be to imply that Thais should know better than to rock the Royalists’ boat and deflect US support for its citizen.

There could be no clearer censorship issue than the arrest of Joe Gordon. Hillary Clinton has been talking big about Internet censorship for two years. Joe Gordon’s case will probably prove the US was just blowing smoke.

Similarly, there could be no clearer ‘prisoner of conscience’ for Amnesty International. Will they speak up?

It would appear another side effect of Joe Gordon’s arrest is the serious blocking of anonymous proxies for circumvention. FACT has tested hundreds of proxy sites with about a 50% blocked result. These were largely left unblocked since the military coup govt.

Webpages for The King Never Smiles on Amazon and Yale University Press are suddenly blocked also for the first time since the military coup. The military coup banned TKNS and its agenda hasn’t changed. This arrest is indicative that the Thai military is in charge.

The King Never Smiles carries no dark secrets about the Thai king. But it carefully documents a lot of dirty dealings about the Thai military we’re sure they’d rather keep in the dark.

If you look for TKNS, we strongly recommend you do so by searching with Google SSL and download only with connections using anonymous proxies or VPN. Don’t give govt any excuse.

Thai readers should look at the TKNS introduction and chapters one, 15 and 22 actually hosted at the website said to belong to Joe Gordon. Decide for yourself if any of these insult the King.

The King has good reason not to smile. Linking to content is NOT a crime!

Books are not bombs…

FREE JOE GORDON NOW!

4 Responses to “FACTorial: Free Joe Gordon! Linking to websites is not a crime!”

  1. Emilio Says:

    An excellent article, thank you FACT. I regularly speak to norporchorusa’s webmaster and he assures me Joe Gordon has nothing whatsoever to do with the site.

    Thailand’s discredited DSI are desperate to single out Thais living abroad for allegedly having broken Thailand’s anti-democratic lese majeste law. Joe is simply being made an example of.

    Even more disgraceful and worrying, these political witch hunts against US citizens appear to have the tacit support of the US ambassador in Bangkok, who has collaborated by remaining silent.

    I urge all those reading this article to write letters of protest to Joe Gordon’s political representatives in Colorado as well as the local media.


  2. […] Freedom Against Censorship Thailand has a post well worth reading in full. It is on the American Joe Gordon, currently incarcerated without bail in Bangkok for alleged lese majeste. […]


  3. Barack Obama is the son of Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.


  4. OBAMA SON OF KING BHUMIBOL OF THAILAND

    Watch my video entitled ” OBAMA IDENTITY REVEALED- MEET THE REAL FOCKERS.” IT’S ON YOUTUBE.COM/SINDONIPRODUCTIONS


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