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Thai Activist Given 10 Years in Jail for Insulting King

A Thai magazine editor has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for publishing articles that insulted the monarchy, the latest conviction under Thailand's controversial lese majeste laws.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, former editor of "Voice of the Oppressed" magazine, says he plans to appeal the verdict handed down Wednesday by the Criminal Court in Bangkok.

The conviction stems from two 2010 articles published in Somyot's magazine, which has since been shut down by the government.

Although Somyot did not write the articles, judges found he still violated Article 112 of Thailand's criminal code, which calls for up to 15 years in jail for those who insult the monarchy.

Somyot, who supports the "Red Shirt" political movement, was arrested in 2011, five days after starting a campaign against Article 112.

He was also given one additional year in prison on a separate defamation conviction.



Rights groups immediately condemned the verdict. Amnesty International said the decision was a "serious setback for freedom of expression" in Thailand.

Human Rights Watch said the court's ruling "appears to be more about Somyot's strong support for amending the lese majeste law than about any harm incurred by the monarchy."

Thailand's lese majeste laws are among the world's toughest. Rights groups say they are often used to silence the government's political opponents and are a violation of free speech.

The country's 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej is widely revered by Thais as a unifying figure in the politically polarized nation, and talks of removing the laws have proven too contentious.

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