Speed up lese majeste inquiries: PM

Speed up lese majeste inquiries: PM

Officials to be tough on online offenders

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked four agencies to speed up their investigations into lese majeste cases regarding unlawful online content and to take legal action against the suspects.

The four agencies in question are the Digital Economy and Society Ministry (DES), the Department of Special Investigation, the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

Gen Prayut said he had impressed upon the agencies the need to closely monitor lese majeste offences on social media and to curb fake news currently being spread online about the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Mr Buddhipongse.

The TCSD had on Saturday summoned anti-government protest leaders Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak and Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul -- who are now among a number of people facing lese majeste charges in connection with the anti-government protests -- to turn up in person and acknowledge charges of violating the Computer Crime Act.

The two, however, opted to give a written statement instead; the TCSD agreed but asked them to submit their written statements by tomorrow, said a source.

If the two fail to lodge their statements in time, the TCSD said it will proceed with the current allegations against them and present them to prosecutors for further legal action to be taken.

The TCSD is also pursuing legal action against more than 20 other suspects facing charges for online posts that allegedly breach the lese majeste laws.

The DES Ministry has also submitted a number of court-approved orders regarding online lese majeste activities to the foreign companies which own Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and a number of websites, along with a request to suspend public access to 9,192 posts containing what is regarded as lese majeste content, according to the source.

In a joint statement read at the 14 Oct 1973 memorial last month, the protest leaders said they would use every possible channel to achieve their goal as they believed Section 112 presented an unwarranted legal obstacle in many ways.

They likened Section 112, aka the lese majeste law, to "the first stone that needs to be removed".

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