Prosecutors Postpone Future Forward’s Cybercrime Case

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks in a March 26, 2019, press briefing at the party’s headquarters.
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks in a March 26, 2019, press briefing at the party’s headquarters.

BANGKOK — Prosecutors on Tuesday postponed the decision on whether to indict Future Forward Party leaders involved in a cybercrime case.

The prosecutor’s office said it would decide next month if it would move forward with the case against party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two senior party members for criticizing the ruling junta online. It originally scheduled the decision for today, but said it needed additional evidence from investigators.

Attorney Kritsadang Nootjarat, who met prosecutors today on behalf of Thanathorn and the others, insisted the three did not “instigate public disorder” as accused, as their criticism was based on widely reported facts.

They were charged with “spreading false information online” on two cases in June via a livestream on the party’s Facebook page and a post written on Thanathorn’s profile.

Thanathorn once served on the board of Matichon Group, which owns Khaosod English.

The party, popular among young voters, has been hit with several legal cases that could lead to its disbandment. Its deputy party leader has been charged with sharing a fake news article targeting the junta, and the Election Commission said it would investigate if the party violated election regulations after a candidate from the dissolved Thai Raksa Chart asked her supporters to vote for Future Forward instead.

Dissolution of the party could hugely impact the post-election landscape, as the young party came third in Sunday’s general election behind political giants Pheu Thai and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha’s Phalang Pracharath party. The unofficial voting results showed Future Forward edged the pro-junta party among Bangkok voters, who are habitually pro-establishment.

Thanathorn yesterday supported Pheu Thai to form a coalition and endorsed Sudarat Keyuraphan as the next prime minister. If dissolved, a by-election would be needed in which Pheu Thai would lose its strongest ally to form a government.