Passports of Lese Majeste Suspects Revoked

NCPO conference displaying military grade weapons that they claim belonged to the "Khon Kaen Model," and underground network plotting violence against security forces in the Northeast.

BANGKOK — Thai authorities have revoked the passports of six fugitive Redshirt politicians and activists who have been accused of insulting the monarchy.

The revoked passports belong to former politicians Jarupong Ruangsuwan, Jakrapob Penkair, and Sunai Chulpongsatorn, and Redshirt activists Chatwadee Amornpat, Ekkapob Luara, and Attachai Anantamek.

All six live abroad and are wanted by the Thai authorities for refusing to report to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) after it staged a coup d’état on 22 May. Those who defy NCPO summons orders face trials in martial court and up to two years in prison.

Three of the six fugitives are also wanted for allegedly committing lese majeste (insult of monarchy). They include  Mr. Jakrapob, Mr. Chatwadee, and Mr. Ekkapob. Criticism of the Royal Family is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Thailand.

All six are reportedly living abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could only revoke their passports after formal arrest warrants were issued, said Sihasak Puangketkaew, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The six passports were officially revoked on 26 June, officials at the Ministry said. 

Jakrapob linked to 'terror group'

Mr. Sihasak added that the Ministry is seeking the extradition of Mr. Jakrapob from Hong Kong, where he recently held a press conference to discuss the anti-coup organisation he helped found in exile: the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FTHD)Mr. Jakrapob fled to Cambodia in 2009 after he was accused by conservative politicians of lese majeste.

According to the NCPO, Mr. Jakrapob is linked to an underground terrorist network known as "Khon Kaen model," which allegedly intended to launch attacks against security forces in Khon Kaen and incite unrest in other northeastern provinces. 

Authorities have arrested more than 30 suspects and confiscated hundreds of military grade weapons in connection with various underground networks, including the Khon Kaen model. According to the NCPO, some of the suspects said Mr. Jakrapob was one of the "masterminds" behind the stockpiling of weapons.

Mr. Jakrapob wrote on his Facebook account over the weekend that the NCPO’s accusations are false.

"The accusation pressed against me today by the Thai illegal coupmakers reveals the desperation of the officers and ammart [feudal elite]," Mr. Jakrapob wrote. "The false claim that I am behind these so-called armed groups is not only a fiction, but also another example of the stupidity of the dictator clique who wants to fool the world."

He added, "Let me say it clearly: There is no evidence that links me to the weapons confiscated by the military dictators. I challenge them to provide evidence. Of course, even the confiscation of weapons is very fishy. There has been no independent investigation about those confiscated weapons."

Mr. Jakrapob claimed that the move to revoke his Thai passport will only further convince the international community of the Thai military junta’s "arrogance.”

Thai authorities have also demanded the the extradition Ms. Chatwadee, who lives in the UK and was accused of lese majeste by her own parents in April. The British Embassy in Thailand said the UK only extradites individuals for offenses that are recognized in both Thailand and the UK, which does not apply to lese majeste.

 

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