Thaksin Denies Insulting Monarchy, Threatens to Sue

Former Prime Minsiter Thaksin Shinawatra speaks during a Feb. 23, 2016, interview in Singapore. Photo: Edgar Su / Reuters

BANGKOK — Fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra denied late Monday night that he has ever defamed the royal family and threatened to sue anyone who accuses him of the crime.

Thaksin, who was ousted in the 2006 coup, tweeted in Thai on Monday night, Bangkok time, that he was “emotionally troubled” by word the new attorney general had vowed to prosecute him for the crime.

“I have never thought of violating the [royal] institution at all,” read the second of five tweets from Thaksin to his 609,000 followers.

Read: New AG Vows to Try Thaksin for Insulting Monarchy

Thaksin said he condemns the use of lese majeste against him and will take all legal action against those who continue implicate him, regardless of whether he knew the person. He did not name names.

The denial and legal threat came after newly appointed attorney general Khemchai Chutiwongse said he would find a way to return Thaksin to Thailand and prosecute him for the the crime, which is known as lese majeste and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Khemchai has reportedly said he would ask police to determine the former premier’s whereabouts and seek his extradition, according to a conservative news outlet. The allegations stem from an interview Thaksin gave in 2015 to a South Korean news agency saying the coup a year earlier which ousted the government of his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was aided by certain members of the “palace circle.”

As a result, the military accused Thaksin of insulting the monarchy. Thaksin, who served as prime minister from 2001 until he was deposed in 2006, was accused by his opponents of seeking to supplant the monarchy. He denied being disloyal and professed devotion to King Bhumibol, who died one year ago on Oct. 13 at 88.

Redshirt leader Weng Tojirakarn on Monday accused the junta of using a trumped-up charge to eliminate the Shinawatra clan from the political scene.