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Critics of Thai junta warned by police

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    Critics of Thai junta warned by police over potentially divisive online posts
    Friday 6 June 2014

    Warning comes after police tracked the IP address of an activist after he posted on Facebook calls for anti-coup protests

    Critics of Thai junta warned by police over potentially divisive online posts
    Thai demonstrators in Bangkok wear masks of activist Sombat Boonngamanong, during a demonstration against the coup.

    Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

    Thai police warned online critics of the military junta on Friday that they will be tracked down if they post political views that could incite divisiveness, the latest reminder about surveillance of social media in post-coup Thailand.

    The Technology Crime Suppression Division, a police unit that is working with the army, cited Thursday's capture of a leading organiser of anti-coup protests as a lesson to everyone in the country using social media.

    Police tracked Sombat Boonngamanong's IP address to learn where he was after he posted on Facebook several times calling for protests against the 22 May coup, said police officer Pisit Paoin, who handled the arrest.

    "I want to tell any offenders on social media that police will come get you," he said. "Any expressions of political views online must be done in a way that will neither incite divisiveness or violence."

    The military government, which has warned that it is closely monitoring online activities, has blocked hundreds of websites and plans to expand its surveillance capabilities. But Sombat's arrest was likely to spread new fear through Thailand's active online community.

    Sombat, a prominent social activist, had spearheaded an online campaign calling for people to silently show opposition to the coup by raising a three-finger salute in public places borrowing a symbol of resistance to oppression from the Hunger Games.

    He was one of several hundred people including politicians, academics, activists and journalists summoned by the military following the coup. Sombat defied the order to turn himself in and taunted authorities with posts such as "Catch me if you can".

    "He's a smart guy and also clever," Pisit said. "But he said: 'Catch me if you can.' Now we are showing him: 'We can catch you.'"

    Sombat was arrested on Thursday night in a house in Chonburi province, about two hours east of Bangkok. He announced the capture on his Facebook account, saying simply, "I've been arrested."

    Pisit said Sombat was in military custody and under martial law could face two years in prison for defying the junta's order to turn himself in. He said Sombat would be tried in a military court.
    Last edited by Mid; 06-06-2014, 07:12 PM.
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