Gov’t Says ‘5 More People’ May be Nabbed for Royal Insult

Police escort Karn Pongpraphapan to an interrogation at a police station in Bangkok on Oct. 8, 2019.

BANGKOK — A top official said Tuesday five more people might be arrested in connection with “inappropriate” online comments about the monarchy, in addition to an activist apprehended by the police last night.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said he was told by the digital economy ministry that the five people of interests, whom he did not name, may be involved with the offensive comments. He spoke hours after pro-democracy campaigner Karn Pongpraphapan was charged with cybercrime for allegedly insulting the monarchy on Facebook.

“I have been informed that there are about five people [involved] in this matter,” Prawit told reporters. “As for how much involvement they have, I still don’t know, because I have to wait for the investigation results first.”

Read: Activist Arrested, Accused of Making Threats to Monarchy

He continued, “But if they are heavily involved, we’ll have to prosecute them, because their wrongdoing involves attacking the monarchy.”

Police earlier today announced they arrested Karn at his home and later charged him with cybercrime for a comment he wrote on his public Facebook account.

In the Oct. 2 post, which he has since deleted, Karn made references to the gruesome fates of past European monarchies, though he did not explicitly mention the Thai Royal Family.

Yet it was enough for police to charge him with Computer Crime Act, which bans importing information into the computer system that affects national security. The offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

Digital Economy minister Puttipong Punnakan said the authorities acted on evidence and did not target Karn for his political beliefs.

Asked whether the police acted proportionately by arresting Karn without issuing him with summons warrants first, the minister replied it was the court who approved the arrest.

“We cannot interfere with the court’s decisions,” Puttipong said.