Police will today ask the court to issue an arrest warrant for a red-shirt leader who allegedly insulted the monarchy in a recent interview with the foreign press, the government's Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) said yesterday.
A video clip showing Wuthipong Kotthammakhun, also known as Ko Tee, giving the interview to a foreign journalist has gone viral.
CAPO said its examination of the clip found that Ko Tee's interview might violate the lese majeste law in Article 112 of the Penal Code.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered police to take legal action against those involved in this case.
The centre also warned the public not to share or distribute the clip or they could be prosecuted under both the lese majeste and computer crime laws.
National police chief Pol General Adul Sangsingkaew yesterday said that following the premier's expression of concern, he promised to take urgent action.
Commenting on a report that Wutthipong had already fled to a neighbouring country, Adul said he had also ordered immigration police to prevent him from leaving the country. A Nation News Agency reporter reached Wutthipong by phone yesterday.
He said he was in an unspecified foreign country and insisted that he was not fleeing the law, but was on business. He said he would fight the allegation of lese majeste and claimed that the video clip was doctored to frame him.
"I want to tell the government that I have always worked for the Pheu Thai Party and the government, particularly Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra," he said.
"Now they are taking legal action against me. It seems they want to kill the warrior when the war is over."
Adul said he had discussed the issue with Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha and informed him that police would be urgently gathering information and evidence so the arrest warrant could be issued.
The general said police placed importance on offences against the monarchy and would make every effort to bring the offenders to justice.
He also referred to a man known as "Tang Acheewa", whose real name is Ekkapob Luara, who spoke on stage during a red-shirt rally last year.
An arrest warrant has been issued for him, as his remarks were deemed insulting to the monarchy.
Adul confirmed earlier reports that Tang had fled the country.
"Police have contacted their counterparts in neighbouring countries in a bid to locate him," he said.
Police have been criticised for being lenient with Tang, who posted several photos on Facebook showing him boarding a plane, singing karaoke and dining with a girlfriend.
Opposition politicians from the Democrat Party, Mallika Boonmeetrakul and Jurit Laksanavisit, yesterday filed a complaint with the Army chief, asking him to take legal action against Tang for lese majeste.
Meanwhile, a group of people calling themselves Citizens Who Love the Country, Religion, King and Democracy filed a complaint with the police chief, asking him to take legal action against Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee.
In its complaint filed with Adul, the group accused Suthep of sedition and seeking to gain political power through unconstitutional means. The group referred to Suthep's recent claim of "sovereign status".
Suthep last Saturday said that if the caretaker prime minister had to leave office due to a court order, his group would claim "sovereign" status in the name of Thai citizens, after which he would nominate a new prime minister and seek royal endorsement.