Thai magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk of Voice of the Oppressed has been sentenced to prison for insulting the royal family.
The charge comes under the country’s draconian lese-majeste law and drew condemnation from international rights groups and the European Union.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Prueksakasemsuk’s magazine is devoted to self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The editor was found guilty of publishing articles in 2010 that defamed the country’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
In passing sentence, a judge stated of the case:
“The accused is a journalist who had a duty to check the facts in these articles before publishing them. He knew the content defamed the monarchy but allowed their publication anyway.”
The articles criticized the role of a fictional character who was meant to represent the king, according to public prosecutors. Discussions about the role of the monarchy are strictly forbidden in Thailand.
The Associated Press notes that the verdict came, even though there have been several calls to free the activist and editor, who has been in jail since 2011. Another judge stated in the sentencing:
“[Somyot] should have better judgement than ordinary journalists. He must have understood that the articles contained lese majeste content, but chose to publish them anyway.”
Somyot plans to appeal the verdict, but he will not seek a royal pardon. Brad Adams, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch, believes that the ruling “appears to be more about Somyot’s strong support for amending the lese majeste law than about any harm incurred by the monarchy.”
Article 112 of the nation’s criminal code mandates three to 15 years in jail for “whoever defames, insults, or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent.” Somyot launched a petition to revoke the article in 2011 and was arrested five days later.