ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Main Area and Open Discussion > Living Room

Huh? Thailand can put an American in jail for posting internet content??

(1/5) > >>

Article here

I don't quite understand this.  This guy is an American citizen, but Thai born.  While in Colorado, he posts online a translation of a book that is banned in Thailand because it says bad things about the king.  When he goes to Thailand for medical reasons, they detain him and sentence him to prison for 2 years.  Isn't the US supposed to not allow this?  What power does Thailand have over a US citizen?

Let's paraphrase the question like this:

A Thai citizen collaborates with terrorists which plan some evil and treacherous attack on the US. Then for medical reasons, he goes to US.

Should he be arrested there? What power does US have over a Thai citizen?

I know I am making a travesty of the matter. Laws banning free speech can't be reasonably compared with laws against terrorism. But yet, nominally they are the same, just laws.

In general, you're bound by the laws and conventions of whatever place you're physically in. That's why "patriotic speech" in one country becomes "seditious plotting" in another. I can write an article saying Alexander Putin deserves to be thrown out of office, and I'd possibly be applauded for it. If I showed up in Moscow shortly after that, it might be a different story. Especially if something I said in the article gained traction with the public and caused trouble in Russia beforehand.

FWIW unless you're a highly placed individual in government, the military, or business, the U.S. government won't go much out of their way to help you out of you run afoul of the law in a foreign country. And even if they do, there's actually very little the U.S. can do if the country in question digs it's heels in about it. Sovereign nations need to observe conventions of law and acknowledge foreign sovereignty if they expect their own to be recognised in turn. Basic 'tit for tat' at work here.

I think that if you're an activist in any way shape or form, it's a good idea to check the local laws before you travel any place your activism touches on. Because with the visibility the internet provides for any viewpoint, there's no such thing as a purely 'local' audience any more.

It's the Global Village folks. And it should come as no surprise it also has a dark side.  :tellme:

Interesting, thanks guys.

What happened to this guy probably makes a great deal of sense, only he would perhaps not have understood what he had effectively done by publishing what he did.

The Thais have long (I forget how long) had a lèse majesté law, that prohibits publishing, saying, writing bad or negative things about the King and/or the royal family generally. From experience, whilst this may limit freedom of the press and inhibit media discussion of the royal family, it does not necessarily inhibit what Thai people say/think when discussing things in a private or family context, or in anonymous comments to posts on the Internet (e.g., Google "economist Thai les majeste" or similar).

Suffice it to say that, whatever members of the royal family do/say is not generally reported by the media unless it is with the approval of the King/family.
Thailand operates a democratic monarchy.
The King is especially very highly regarded as being a good man. Probably reluctantly made king when, as next in line following the premature death of the previous heir apparent, he inherited the title, he later threw himself wholeheartedly into the responsibility of his position. In his long life he has done a tremendous amount of good for the country - the people and the economy - and been a beacon of stability in times of political and serious civil unrest in the democracy.
Like many Thai people, my Thai wife (who is a Buddhist) likes to keep a picture of the King and Queen located high up near the ceiling in our living room. This is a token of respect/honour.

The  lèse majesté law is taken very seriously and offences under it sometimes seem to be quite severely punished.
As someone who has lived and worked in Thailand, I have understood and respected that law whilst in Thailand and outside, and for that reason I would not publicly say or write anything disparaging about the royal family in this forum or in any other medium.

I think it was Dec. 2008 that the Economist magazine ran a pretty frank "no-holds-barred" briefing/analysis on Thailand that was critical in its references to the king and the royal family's influence in such a way as to put them in a decidedly less than flattering light. I read that edition of the Economist on a Qantas flight into Bangkok, and I noticed that some Thai passengers on the flight were trying to secure copies to take with them when they disembarked - this was apparently because it had been banned from circulation in Thailand, under the lèse majesté law.

I think it was an easy thing for the Economist to make such comments safely and from a distance, and perhaps it was cowardly too - as there were no named authors.

If you think this is a restriction on freedoms, then wait till the Arab-dominated UN pass the recently proposed resolution that would make it illegal to defame a religion (which religion might that be?) or cause an offense to a religion or a religious person. Inshallah.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version