American gets 2.5 years in prison for “insulting” Thai royalty

Joe Gordon, a 55-year-old retired car salesman from Colorado, was sentenced by a court in Thailand to 2.5 years in prison for publishing material that “defames” King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

To make matters worse, Gordon, who was born in Thailand and speaks fluent Thai, didn’t even directly insult the King, but rather posted an excerpt from an unauthorized biography of the 84-year-old monarch, titled The King Never Smiles.

Despite the fact that Gordon’s “offense” took place in America, the man was detained in Thailand back in May when visiting his home country to seek medical care for arthritis and high blood pressure. The government repeatedly shot down his attempts to make bail, and in October he pleaded guilty in hopes that the courts would give him a lenient sentence.

Gordon says he has no expectations that he’ll be let off easy, however. This is just the system in Thailand,” he said, as reported by the Associated Press. He later continued: “In Thailand, they put people in prison even if they don’t have proof.”

Defaming the monarchy – the king, the queen, and the heir to the throne – carries a penalty of three to fifteen years in prison. Comparatatively, Gordon got off easy – in November, 61-year-old Amphon Tangnoppakul was sentenced to 20 years in prison for text messages deemed offensive by the royal family.

Source: Associated Press

[Image credit: AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong]