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Thailand Arrests More Hackers Targeting Government Sites

  • VOA News

Natdanai Kongdee, third from right, is interviewed at the police headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 26, 2016.

Natdanai Kongdee, third from right, is interviewed at the police headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 26, 2016.

Police in Thailand have arrested nine more people for hacking government computers following a wave of cyberattacks aimed at protesting a new law restricting internet use.

Police say one of those arrested, Natdanai Kongdee, was charged in connection with the attacks that caused some government websites to be blocked, as well as government data to be leaked. They say Natdanai, who is 19, is a low-level hacker rather than a leader of the attacks who confessed to carrying out the hacking.

Natdanai appeared at a news conference Monday along with Thai officials who described him and other young hackers as naive people who have been duped into their actions.

"There will be more arrests," Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said.

Hackers say they are protesting recent amendments to the country's Computer Crimes Act, which activists say will be a setback to Thailand's reputation as a regional leader of free speech.

The new amendments will allow Thailand's government to censor websites and intercept private communications without a court order. They also impose hefty fines and jail sentences in cases related to national security, defamation and online fraud, with jail terms of up to five years.

Nearly 400,000 people in Thailand have signed a petition for the government to step back from the amendments. Critics of the law say it could also impact political debate ahead of national elections set for late 2017.

Thai officials say the changes in the law target the digital economy and society while protecting people's rights from being violated on social and digital media.

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