20-Year-Old Twitter User Denied Bail for Royal Insult

An illustration depicting Niranam by cartoonist Kaimaew.
An illustration depicting Niranam by cartoonist Kaimaew.

Update: An appeal court later granted bail to “Niranam” and freed him from prison at about 7.20pm.

BANGKOK — A 20-year-old jailed on allegations of insulting the monarchy was again denied a bail release on Monday, his attorneys said.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, who’s campaigning for the man’s freedom, said the court rejected his bail on the grounds that he might flee the country while the trial is ongoing. The refusal came after the online communities raised over 500,000 baht for his bond money.

The man was identified by the group as Twitter user ssj_2475, who allegedly posted content critical of the monarch under a pseudonym Niranam (anonymous in Thai). He is being held at a prison in Chonburi province.

The lawyers said the man was arrested at his home in Chonburi on Feb. 19 and charged with violating Section 14 of the Computer Crime Act, which bans importing information that threatens “national security” into the computer system.

Although he was not charged with insulting the monarchy under Section 112 of the Criminal Codes, his attorneys said the police and the court adopted the same protocol of secrecy associated with royal insult trials.

Due to the harsh enforcement of royal defamation laws, Khaosod English cannot republish the content Niranam wrote in his Twitter account.

As of Monday morning, many Twitter users were calling for Niranam’s release from custody, sending #FreeNiranam to a top trending hashtag.