BANGKOK — A deputy leader of the Future Forward Party was among those charged over sharing a likely bogus story about a top junta official spending 12,000 baht for a cup of coffee, police said Monday.
Lt. Gen. Pongskorn Rodchompoo and five other people were charged with violating the Computer Crime Act by sharing a report that “damaged government agencies and national security,” according to Lt. Gen. Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn of the Technology Crime Suppression Division.
Four people have now been arrested, and Pongskorn is scheduled to hear the charges against him Monday.
Junta representatives went to police late last month with complaints about several cases of being targeted by false information. The one which led to Monday’s charges was a story widely shared on Facebook last month claiming Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan and other ministers spent 82,000 baht of government welfare funds on coffee.
If convicted, the defendants could be jailed for up to five years and fined 100,000 baht.
Pongskorn said he would meet authorities to hear the charges. He added that he didn’t know the news was fake when he shared it, and that he deleted the post and apologized for his mistake.
The charges are the latest in a host of legal threats facing the party, whose popularity has surged online, especially among younger voters.
In another case, the Election Commission yesterday accepted complaints that party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit made a false claim in a profile published on the party’s website, which could lead to it being disbanded. The charge laid by transparency activist Srisuwan Janya was later dismissed on March 14.
Prosecutors have also taken up another case against the party’s leadership for criticizing the ruling junta online last year.
Update: This story has been updated with the disposition of a complaint against party leader Thanathorn over his online biography.