Websites which insult Thai royalty to be shut down

Websites which insult Thai royalty to be shut down

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) intends to shut down all websites carrying lese majeste content by the year-end, according to its secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.

If websites violate Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the NBTC has the power to close them without seeking court approval, he said.

Takorn said yesterday the NBTC intended to close all offending websites by December 31. The police would also check IP addresses of those websites for further legal action, he added.

The watchdog held a meeting yesterday with Internet Service providers (ISP) under its licensing regime and the Royal Thai Police Special Branch. Representatives from ISPs and the relevant agencies discussed the moves to clamp down on such websites.

The NBTC instructed all the ISPs to shut down websites that contained content deemed in contempt of the monarchy and affecting the national security.

The NBTC invited Facebook to attend yesterday's meeting but the leading social-media company did not send any representative. Takorn said that despite their absence, there would be no problem in coordinating with Facebook to discuss the issue. He added that operators of social networks in Thailand should be aware of the Thai law and regulations.

Meanwhile, two people accused of defaming the monarchy in a university play pleaded guilty yesterday amid an intensifying junta crackdown on perceived royal slurs under the lese majeste law, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Both defendants pleaded guilty to the charges," said the judge at the Criminal Court, adding that sentence would be passed on February 23.

Student Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and activist Porntip Mankong, 25, were arrested in August, nearly a year after the "The Wolf Bride" play was shown at Thammasat University.

They were each charged with one count of lese majeste linked to the performance, which marked the 40th anniversary of a pro-democracy student protest that was brutally crushed by authorities in October 1973.

Both accused were brought into court barefoot - Patiwat's feet bound with chains - at a hearing attended by a few dozen people, including their relatives, students and an observer from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Patiwat, a final-year student at Khon Kaen University, acted in the piece - which was about a fictional monarchy - while Porntip coordinated the production as well as playing a small role.

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