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Thai college student arrested for tweeting about monarchy

Associated Press

Bangkok – A legal aid group in Thailand says police have arrested a 20-year-old college student for allegedly posting messages on Twitter considered derogatory to the country’s monarchy.

The group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said Friday that 10 police detained the student at his home in the eastern province of Chonburi on Wednesday for offenses under the Computer Crime Act.

Criticism of the monarchy is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment under a lese majeste law, but in recent years people accused of such actions have been arrested more frequently under the computer crime law, which covers acts endangering public disorder and national security.

The lawyers’ group said the student’s detention originated with an investigation into a group or individual holding anti-monarchy views. The student allegedly tweeted under the name “Anonymous” in Thai, and was traced with the help of a mobile phone service operator.

Pavinee Chumsri, a member of the lawyers’ group, said the student acknowledged posting the tweets, possibly out of fear of facing more serious charges. He and his parents “have decided that the best course of action is to cooperate with the police officers,” she said.

Pavinee declined to provide the student’s name for privacy reasons.

She said there were several concerning aspects to the case, including the lack of an arrest warrant, the absence of a lawyer when he was being interrogated, and the denial of bail even though he has been cooperating with police.

Most Computer Crime Act defendants are granted bail, according to the group.