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Monday, 02 November 2009 12:29

Internet bloggers arrested in Thailand

Written by Nick Farell

Image

Ding dong over good King Bhumibol


Thai coppers arrested two security experts on suspicion of using the Internet to spread rumors about the health of the country's 81-year-old king. The rumours were believed to have been behind stock prices falling last month.

The two were charged with violating Thailand's Computer Crimes Act by "feeding untrue information through a computer system which undermined the security of the nation.” King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch had been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms and is still there.

One of the people arrested Teeranu Wipuchanin, a 43-year-old former stock trader, told reporters after her arrest that she translated an article from financial news and data provider Bloomberg, which attributed the market's decline to rumours about the king's health, and posted it online. She said that everyone on that day wanted to know what caused the market to fall.

Bangkok-based stock broker Kata Pajajariyapon was also charged under Thailand's computer-crimes law and face up to five years in prison and a $3,000 fine each if convicted.

Thailand has been trying for ages to lock up anyone who talks about the royal family. In addition to strict lèse majesté laws, which prohibit criticism of the king and his family, Thailand last year began prosecuting people under its 2007 Computer Crimes Act for using the Internet to discuss royal affairs.

(In case you thought the richest royalty on the planet came from Arabia or Brunei, think again - Adulyadej's net worth has been estimated at $36 billion, nearly twice as much as the Sultan of Brunei. No wonder he doesn't like being talked about... sub.ed.)

Nick Farell

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