Thai police claim arrest of key anti-monarchist

Thai police arrested Hassadin Uraipraiwan (C) but still seek the mastermind behind the anti-monarchy network.

Police believe the mastermind who funded the network that produces anti-monarchy video clips is still at large, despite the arrest of an alleged key person on Monday night.

Police spokesman Pol Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri said the Anti-Money Laundering Office is now tracing the money trail of Hassadin Uraipraiwan, aka 'Banpodj'.

He is believed to be the key man behind the Banpodj network and was arrested on Monday in a search to uncover the mastermind of the ring who is suspected of funding Hassadin and the network.

Hassadin, 64, was accused of violating the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act (CCA) and is now being detained and interrogated at the Eleventh Infantry Division in Bangkok under martial law. He was arrested at a motel in Bangkok's Rama IX area.

Prawut insisted that Hassadin was the man behind the alias 'Banpodj' which, through his network, had spread anti-monarchist videos on YouTube, disseminating CDs and other anti-monarchist content on social media for years.

In a related development, coordinator of Green Group, Suriyasai Katasila, posted a message on his Facebook account demanding authorities bring the true mastermind to justice, saying this should be the beginning of a major crackdown against anti-monarchists.

Yesterday, two suspected disseminators of fake palace documents were taken to the military court to face charges under the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act.

Red-shirt supporter Kris Buddeechin and webmaster at ASTV, Niran Yaowapha, were both charged. They denied having any intention to spread false news, saying they soon deleted the material after learning it was fake.

Kris was represented by pro-bono legal representative Winyarat Chartmontri, from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a group formed after the coup to assist those facing prosecution under martial law.

Winyarat said Kris was arrested without police first issuing a summons letter. Despite the imposition of martial law, which allows such an action, the authorities should nevertheless have exercised their power with greater restraint, he said. Winyarat said Kris would submit Bt2 million (S$83,120) in assets as collateral for his bail application.

Niran, meanwhile, was represented by his lawyer, Suwat Aphaipakdee, who said the accused only posted the fake palace announcement for 10 minutes on the ASTV website and removed it right after he learned it was a fake. Suwat said his client had already posted an apology, sought a Royal pardon and reported the matter to police. Niran was granted bail after posting Bt400,000 in cash and a land title deed yesterday.