Katha Pajariyapong

Katha Pajariyapong

Blog: http://sameskybooks.org/
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
13° 43' 24.3084" N, 100° 28' 34.4352" E

Three Internet users have been arrested in early November 2009 for posting articles blaming King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s poor health for last month’s fall in the Bangkok stock exchange. They have been charged under article 14 of the Computers Crime Act 2007 with endangering national security by spreading false rumours about the king’s health.

The first two to be arrested were Katha Pajariyapong, 37, of the brokerage company KT ZMICO, and Theeranan Vipuchan, 43, a former executive with UBS Securities. Arrested on 1 November, 2009, they have been freed on bail but are forbidden to leave the country.

According to Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT): "Katha Pajariyapong and Theeranan Vipuchan were found to have posted information to two public webboards, Prachatai and Same Sky, which since their inception as public, independent news voices have been nettling to insincere politicians and bad government".

The two stockbrokers were promptly arrested but not under the Securities Act which compasses financial manipulations but under Thailand’s draconian cybercrime law because the brokers posted to Prachatai and Same Sky. Troublesome as reality is, in both cases the Bloomberg translation was posted after SET took the dive! In fact, SET rallied after publication of the original Bloomberg article in English. Nevertheless, reputations and conformity mean a great deal in Thai society and the two brokers have been fired from their jobs."

The third person is Somchet Ittiworakul, 38, who was arrested on November 3rd, 2009.

Accused of disseminating reports that caused stocks to fall in mid-October, they are facing possible five-year jail sentences and fines of 100,000 baths (2,000 euros).

According to Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) "Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act was the first law passed in 2007 by the military coup-appointed national assembly. Its provisions have frequently been used as a tool of political repression with penalties of up to 20 years in prison. The Bangkok Post accurately described the law as “a catch-all…to stifle criticism and intimidate the media”." According to RSF The defendants just posted articles online that linked the fall in stocks to the fact that the king was admitted to Bangkok’s Siriraj on 19 September. Theeranan points out that all she did was translate and post a Bloomberg agency article written after the fall, and that she was not paid to do this

It seems that the translation of the Bloomberg dispatch is the only piece of hard evidence in the prosecution case file. The investigators have not mentioned the original article and have referred only to the translation, which reinforces the impression that the three defendants are being used as scapegoats for the fall in stocks.

The police say the three defendants do not know each other. The authorities have meanwhile revealed that they are investigating two other Internet users with a view to arresting them for the same reason.

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