Author Insults Thai King, Editor Gets 10-Year Sentence

Author has since fled to Cambodia

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2013 7:12 AM CST

(Newser) – A Thai magazine editor was today sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting the king. If that sounds extreme, consider this: Somyot Pruksakasemsuk didn't actually write the insults, he just published them. (The author has since fled to Cambodia.) And they didn't appear in articles of fact, but in two fiction stories. Oh, and they didn't actually mention King Bhumibol Adulyadej by name, reports the New York Times. One of the pieces published in the now-defunct magazine centered around a murderous ghost that the court determined was a stand-in for Bhumibol, in a tale that "conveyed connection to historical events."

In an unusual move, Pruksakasemsuk, 51, attempted to argue that the nation's lese majeste law—which allows for a sentence of up to 15 years for anyone who defames the country's royalty—trampled upon his right to free expression. The court wasn't buying it, however, and ruled that the king deserves "special protection." Human rights groups and the EU were quick to denounce the ruling, with the latter noting it chips away at "Thailand’s image as a free and democratic society."

Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk arrives at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
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