American Gets 2.5 Years for Insulting Thai Royals

Joe Gordon posted links to banned biography of king
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2011 2:54 AM CST
Thai-born American Joe Gordon gestures as he answers a reporter's question upon his arrival at a criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011.   (Apichart Weerawong)
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(Newser) – A court in Thailand sentenced a US citizen to two and a half years in prison today for defaming the country's royal family by translating excerpts of a locally banned biography of the king and posting them online. The 55-year-old Thai-born American, Joe Gordon, stood calmly with his ankles shackled in an orange prison uniform as the sentence was read out. The judge said the punishment, initially set at five years, was reduced because Gordon pleaded guilty in October.

Gordon posted links to the banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej several years ago while living in Colorado, and his case has raised questions about the applicability of Thai law to acts committed by foreigners outside Thailand. Speaking after the verdict, Gordon said, "I am an American citizen, and what happened was in America." He was detained in late May during a visit to his native country to seek treatment for arthritis and high blood pressure. His defense lawyer said Gordon would not appeal, but would apply for a royal pardon.

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