Defamation / Reputation
Johnson v. Steele
Closed Contracts Expression
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Phongsak Sriboonpeng was arrested on January 7, 2015 for posting messages and images that had been considered by the court to defame the monarchy. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail in trial held in camera by the Military Court on August 7, 2015. The length of the sentence has raised both international and national concerns over the use of lèse-majesté law in Thailand.
Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.
Phongsak was alleged of using a Facebook account, Sam Parr, to distribute the messages and images deemed by the court to defame the monarchy. The messages and images were actually copied from other sources. 
The details are as followings ;
|September 4, 2013||Posting an image of King Bhumibol’s statue with a description|
|September 10, 2013||Posting an image of King Bhumibol with a description|
|September 17, 2013||Posting an image of King Bhumibol and King Ananda, Bhumibol’s brother, with a description|
|September 18, 2013||Posting two images of banners|
|November 25, 2014||Posting a Facebook’s status challenging that he had never been arrested|
|November 29, 2014||Posting a montage with a description|
He was arrested on December 30, 2015  at a bus station in Phitsanulok after being tricked by a man he talked to on Facebook who turned out to be an officer. He was forced to give the passwords of his Facebook and emails. His action led to him being summoned by the military junta to report himself earlier when they seized power on May 22, 2014. Phongsak was charged of defying the junta’s order and was sentenced to 6 months in prison in March 2015 in which it was suspended .
Regarding the lèse-majesté offence, the Military Court sentenced him to 60 years in prison under the Article 112 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act. The sentence was halved by a guilty plea. The trial was held in camera as the court reasoned that the offence affect the public morality . Phongsak cannot appeal his case due to the reason that what he posted had still appeared during the time martial law was declared.
 Areerat, Kongpob. “Military Court Sets Record Lèse-majesté Sentence of 30 Years.”Prachatai, August 7, 2015. http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/5375
 “Pongsak: Posting lèse-majesté messages on Facebook.” iLaw. http://freedom.ilaw.or.th/en/case/650#detail
 “Man Arrested for Defaming Thai King on Facebook.” Prachatai, January 7, 2015. http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/4655
 Areerat, Kongpob. “Military Court Sets Record Lèse-majesté Sentence of 30 Years.”Prachatai, Op. Cit.
Unfortunately, the official case cannot be posted on the website. Even though the length of the sentence is shocking, the reason behind the verdict of this lèse-majesté case is nothing new. This is due to the lèse-majesté is about the monarchy that is considered as revered in the country. The issue in Thailand has raised both international and national concerns regarding its characteristics that bring human rights violations towards the defendant. Many individuals have been arrested, charged, detained, and imprisoned for exercising their rights of freedom of expression for criticizing the monarchy. Since the lèse-majesté law has no clear scope of which action is considered as offensive, the alleged action is often interpreted according to the court’s points of view which are usually shaped by cultural values and political situations in the country.
Furthermore, since the seizing power of the military junta in Thailand, the lèse-majesté cases have been dramatically increased. The junta ordered all lèse-majesté cases to be tried by the Military Court which is directly under the Ministry of Defense with the deputy head of the junta positions as the minister. This gives the conviction of those who are accused of lèse-majesté almost certain. Moreover, the reason that he cannot appeal the ruling, even though some of the posts were done before the launch of the military junta on May 22, 2014 which was the time martial law was declared, is because all the posts were considered by the court to be seen by public during the time the martial law was used. Therefore, when his case was tried by the military court which worked in a single-tired system during abnormal time, the court did not grant him the right to appeal.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
Phongsak should not face the trial and is imprisoned because of his personal Facebook’s posts. In this case, he exercised his rights to freedom of expression but it was deemed as offensive by the judges of the Military Court.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
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