Last Friday, February 4 marked the start of court proceedings against Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn (known as Jiew), director of the popular online newspaper Prachatai. Jiew faces criminal charges under the Computer Crimes Act (CCA), with a potential penalty of twenty years in prison. Her alleged crime? The government has accused her as operator of Prachatai’s web forum of allowing ten user-generated posts to remain online for too long, even though the offending posts were removed far before her arrest.
Even more troubling, this case is merely the first of two: Jiew was arrested again in September 2010 upon her return from an Internet freedom conference and faces additional charges with penalties of up to fifty years. She was again charged under the CCA and also under lèse majesté laws (defamation of the monarchy) for an interview she published with a Thai man who refused to stand during the Thai Royal Anthem, and for resulting user commentary deemed insulting to the King.
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