A prominent Thai magazine editor has been jailed for 10 years for insulting the country’s royal family.
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was convicted of publishing two articles in his anti-establishment magazine that were said to be critical of the monarchy. Judges found both pieces defamed the royal family and contravened Thailand’s harsh lese majeste laws, which critics say are frequently abused by politicians to silence rivals.
Somyot, who was a supporter of the ousted leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, and leader of the Red Shirts, was sentenced to five years in prison for each article.
More than 100 observers including Thai and international scholars and journalists, diplomats and Somyot’s supporters, were in court to hear the verdict.
The sentence came despite repeated calls by rights groups to free Somyot, who has been in detention since 2011. The articles were published under a pseudonym in his now-defunct Voice of Taksin magazine, which he launched in 2009 to compile political news and anti-establishment articles from writers.
It happened just five days after he launched a petition to revoke part of the nation’s criminal code, which allows three to 15 years in jail for “whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent.”