BANGKOK — A 19-year-old accused of hacking a police website was presented to the public Monday by authorities looking to show such suspects can be found and prosecuted.
Natdanai Kongdi was taken from his home in Bangkok’s Khlong Sam Wa district where authorities said they confiscated a shotgun, two pistols, some marijuana, his computer and a book on network security.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday authorities have nine people in custody accused of hacking into government websites in order to protest the passage of the new Computer Crime Act. No names have been given, and the military only handed over the 19 year old to present at a Monday press conference. He was charged under the 2007 Computer Crime Act.
“The rest are being detained by national security authorities,” deputy police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said Monday. “Only this suspect was transferred to police custody today.”
Kritsana said he did not know the date Natdanai was arrested. He also said he had no information about the other eight people reportedly held by the military.
Natdanai was said to have accessed a central police investigation department database. Images purported to be proof of hack were posted Dec. 17 to the Facebook page of the hacktivist group Citizens Against Single Gateway.
National Police Chief Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda said Natdanai confessed to hacking into the server, capturing the screenshots and sending them to the page’s admin.
Since the revised law was passed unanimously on Dec. 16, online opponents have been attacking government, police and military websites to demand junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha use his absolute power to repeal it.
Rights groups and experts have said the law broadens the power to authorities to intercept and control online content and poses a threat to online freedom when it goes into effect in late March.
Though the law did not create the physical point of control over internet traffic feared by activists for the past year, experts said it created a legal framework with the same purpose. It will allow authorities access to encrypted systems through the secret cooperation of telecoms and service providers, and empower them to censor anything deemed immoral by an appointed panel.
“Don’t think we are going to stop because one of us was arrested,” the admin of Citizens Against Single Gateway posted online. “Even though they can catch us, they can never stop our thoughts.”
While the authorities have played down the success of the attacks, they were unable to stop them or keep a number of sites online. Those participating in the attacks say they cannot verify whether anyone linked to them has been arrested because they operate anonymously.
Chakthip said Natdanai’s arrest would lead to the arrest of others involved. Police said he was a member of three hacker groups.
Natdanai was also charged with being part of criminal network, and possessing guns and drugs.
Raising Natdanai’s case as an example, Chakthip urged all the opposition to refrain from the thought to protest by attacking government sites. He threatened that the Technology Crime Suppression Division can track them down to prosecute.
Citizen Against Single Gateway and the online movement was came together when government plans for the so-called single gateway project were made public. Intense opposition led to officials announcing the plan had been abandoned.
But suspicions remained the military regime was pressing forward with its ambition to bring the internet under its control, and the online opposition became intense again after the Computer Crime Act was approved unanimously.
In addition to sites belonging to the Defense and IT ministries, they also brought the government bidding and payment system down last week.