Thai govt issues arrest warrant over unflattering Facebook poll

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A Thai court has issued an arrest warrant against a well-known anti-corruption activist under the Computer Crime Act for the crime of posting a poll on Facebook about the military government that produced negative results.

The poll, posted by Veera Somkwamkid, asked if people were confident in Thailand’s government. The results were not favorable.

In requesting the arrest warrant under Section 14 of the CCA, the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) argued that because Veera has a high profile as secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, publishing the negative results would trick people into believing “mistruths” and create confusion towards the government and the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the TCSD stipulated, the poll was conducted in a small group and therefore is not accurate.

As a reminder, here is what is prohibited under Section 14:

Section 14. If any person commits any offence of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both:

  1. that involves import to a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to that third party or the public;
  2. that involves import to a computer system of false computer data in a manner that is likely to damage the country’s security or cause a public panic;
  3. that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom’s security under the Criminal Code;
  4. that involves import to a computer system of any computer data of a pornographic nature that is publicly accessible;
  5. that involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data already known to be computer data under (1) (2) (3) or (4).

The warrant was issued on March 9. On March 12, the TSCD raided Veera’s home but did not manage to apprehend him.

Veera has responded on his Facebook page that he will turn himself in on Wednesday. He added that the arrest warrant was granted incorrectly, as there was no summons for questioning prior to the warrant.

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