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Thai webmaster Chiranuch found guilty

Asia Correspondent article here

Thai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn was found guilty this morning of not deleting lèse majesté comments on the now defunct web board of the Thai news website Prachatai quickly enough – she was sentenced to 1 year in prison, which was then reduced to an 8-month SUSPENDED sentence and a THB20,000 (US$630) fine.

In its verdict, the court states that Chiranuch has failed to delete one comment for 20 days, whereas the other nine objected comments were deleted within 10 days, thus violating against Article 14 and 15 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act which punishes “false data” that damages a third party, causes public panic or undermines the country’s security and “any service provider intentionally supporting” the said offenses, respectively – despite the fact that the court also states that the expectation to pre-emptively delete illegal comments was “unfair”.

Below is a full live timeline of the morning’s events…

Today at 10.00 AM (Bangkok time) the Thai Criminal Court will give its verdict against Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn, the webmaster of the news website Prachatai. Chiranuch is being prosecuted for failing to delete 10 comments made by others that are deemed insulting to the monarchy not quickly enough. She has been arrested in 2009 and again in 2011, while the website itself has been hit by numerous takedown orders and blocked repeatedly by authorities.

Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn, webmaster of the Thai news website Prachatai, awaiting her verdict at the Crminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand on April 30, 2012. Miss Chiarnuch has been charged for not deleting comments deemed insulting to the country’s monarchy not quickly enough and could face 20 years in prison.

If that paragraph above sounds familiar to you – it should be: these are exactly the same words from the live-blog from the original verdict date one month ago. However, just mere 10 minutes before it was about to start, the court decided to postpone the verdict, since it needed more time “due to the complexity of the case”.

A lot has happened since then, most notably the death of lèse majesté-victim Amphon ‘Uncle SMS’ Tangnoppakul in prison and the lèse majesté complaint lodged against Prachatai columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk. In light of these events, Chiranuch’s case could be an even more unprecedented moment that could really determine Thailand’s (dis-)regard for freedom of speech.

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