Thai activist sent to prison for sharing news article about king on Facebook

Aug. 15 (UPI) — A Thai student activist has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for sharing an unflattering news article about the Thai king on Facebook, according to reports.

Jatupat Boonpattaraksa pleaded guilty to charges of defaming the monarchy after he shared a BBC Thai profile of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in December. He has been detained since December 3.

The Bangkok Post reported that Jatupat, 26, is a member of Dao Din, a human rights student activist group that has joined with villagers in the northeast to oppose development projects that affect local communities.

In April, while in prison awaiting his sentence, Jatupat was awarded the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

The article Jataput was arrested for posting was shared more than 2,000 times, which led Human Rights Watch to contend that Jataput was targeted because of his activism.

“The charges against Jatupat show the Thai junta’s misuse of lese majeste laws to persecute dissenters against military rule,” Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, said in January. “Thailand’s military rulers have aggressively clamped down on any speech they find objectionable, including what they arbitrarily deem is critical of the monarchy.”.

Thailand has strict laws against insulting the royal family and anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent” can be punished with up to 15 years in prison.

Often, people get harsher punishments for insulting the monarchy.

Last week, a man was sentenced to 18 years for posting six video clips ruled to be insulting to the monarchy.

In June, a man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for insulting the royal family.

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