Search

 

Cablegate: New Cyber Law Nets First Violator

VZCZCXRO6016
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #4926 2560359
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130359Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9602
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BANGKOK 004926

SIPDIS

DEPT PLEASE PASS EAP/PD, ECA, EAP/MLS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO TH
SUBJECT: New Cyber Law Nets First Violator


1. (SBU) Summary: The recent apprehension and release on bail of
the webmaster of a website often critical of the monarchy was the
first known arrest under the controversial Computer Related Offenses
Act -- also known as the Computer Crimes Act -- which was signed
into law in June. Authorities have declined to prosecute the
webmaster for lese majeste, which carries more stringent penalties.
Intimidated by his arrest, the webmaster has not gone public with
his case and many media outlets have hesitated to report his story.
There is no evidence, however, that there are efforts afoot to
cover-up this story. End summary.

2. (SBU) A prominent human rights attorney, and close contact of the
embassy, informed us on September 6 that Mr. Waree Sai Li, who
writes under the pen name of Pichai or Prayapichai on several
popular Thai internet web sites, was arrested on August 24 and was
held without bail at Khlong Prem Remand Prison in Bangkok. Pichai
was the prolific webmaster of an internet discussion group and was
arrested after allegedly posting comments that some had interpreted
as critical of Thailand's revered monarchy. Waree was released on
bail on September 6. Our contacts could not confirm the arrest of a
woman, whom other sources say was arrested at the same time and
location as Pichai and under similar charges.

3. (SBU) According to our contact, prosecutors had considered
charging Waree with lese majeste -- committing an offense against
the dignity of the monarchy which carries a prison term of up to 15
years. Reportedly fearing a public outcry however, prosecutors
instead opted to prosecute Waree under a section of the
recently-enacted Computer Crimes Act which prescribes a punishment
of a maximum five years imprisonment or a $3,000 (100,000 baht) fine
for "posting false content on the Internet to hurt others and public
security". Civil liberties advocates have in the past several
months expressed serious concerns over ambiguous language in the new
law which would appear to give the authorities broad powers to
interpret and suppress content they view as a threat to the
country.

4. (SBU) Report of the arrests first surfaced in the Financial Times
on September 1 but did not appear in the Thai media until September
7 in the online edition of the English language The Nation -- the
day after Waree was released on bail. While the internet community
was reportedly abuzz over this incident, mainstream media has been
relatively silent. Many editors and writers we spoke to had either
not heard of the incident or were too uncertain of the details
to make much of it. A senior member of the Webmasters Association,
a private group which focuses on web rights, said that they had not
heard of the arrest. Even more surprising, when we contacted the
Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the proverbial
internet watchdogs, they claimed to not know anything about the
arrests either.

5. (SBU) Comment: That the first case of an arrest under the new
cyber laws has made little public impact may have more to do with
how journalists cover stories rather than any conspiracy to downplay
this incident. We will continue monitoring arrests under the
Computer Crimes Act closely and will also continue to encourage
government officials to ensure enforcement of the law meets
international human rights standards. End comment.

BOYCE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC