Cambodian caught for spreading fake news about Prayut

Cambodian caught for spreading fake news about Prayut

Pol Maj Gen Surachate 'Big Joke' Hakparn, right, speakis with Cambodian suspect Heng Ratanak (blurred face) in Phnom Penh Thursday. (Tourist police photo)
Pol Maj Gen Surachate 'Big Joke' Hakparn, right, speakis with Cambodian suspect Heng Ratanak (blurred face) in Phnom Penh Thursday. (Tourist police photo)

A Cambodian man has reportedly been arrested in Phnom Penh after allegedly posting fake news about the Thai prime minister on the internet while six Thais have been detained in Bangkok for sharing it, according to Thai police.

Pol Maj Gen Surachate "Big Joke" Hakparn, deputy tourist police chief, told a briefing on Thursday that the Royal Thai Police's Technology Crime Suppression Division had obtained on Wednesday an arrest warrant for Heng Ratanak, 21, of Cambodian nationality.

Heng Ratanak was accused of importing into computer systems false information that may undermine national security or cause panic among the public under the computer crime law. If convicted, he will face a jail term up to five years and/or a fine not exceeding 100,000 baht.

The Thai police found him responsible for uploading on May 23 in Cambodia a Thai-language article saying Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had told Thais to fill their tanks with water instead of diesel when asked about high oil prices. The prime minister denied saying that.

Heng Ratanak reportedly runs the Thai-language news-gossip site, where the clickbait-style article (below) has remained online.


The police also summoned on Thursday six Thais who allegedly shared the article. They are Thanavat Onwan, Roongroj Preecha, Prapasorn Sa-ubon, Jitapa Boontawee, Prapassorn Wanchuchit and Ratanon Chachana.

The six suspects faced the charge of knowingly propagating or forwarding false digital information that may damage national or economic security, or cause panic among the people.

They all confessed to sharing the article but claimed they had no ill intention.

Heng Ratanak, whose address is a printing and bitcoin office in Cambodia, is believed to be computer-savvy and to maintain anti-establishment views. His website frequently publishes false news, police said.

According to a Matichon Online report, Pol Maj Gen Surachet earlier coordinated with Cambodian authorities and Heng Ratanak was arrested after Thai authorities complained on May 25.

The Thai investigators, led by Pol Maj Gen Surachate, will go to Cambodia on Friday to confirm his identity. If positive, they will proceed with extradition.

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