Woman admits spreading Prayut cash transfer rumours

Woman admits spreading Prayut cash transfer rumours

Facebook rumour poster Rinda Pareuchabut (left) at the Royal Thai Police Office press conference in Bangkok on Friday, with national police chief Somyot Pumunmuang. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Facebook rumour poster Rinda Pareuchabut (left) at the Royal Thai Police Office press conference in Bangkok on Friday, with national police chief Somyot Pumunmuang. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A 44-year-old woman with links to a red-shirt group has admitted to having posted false rumours online that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his wife had wired billions of baht to a bank account in Singapore.

Rinda Pareuchabut, a resident of Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district, was apprehended at her house in the central province on Thursday and presented at a press conference at the Royal Thai Police Office on Friday.

Her arrest came after rumours spread on social media that Gen Prayut and his wife Naraporn Chan-o-cha had deposited tens of billions of baht in a bank in Singapore.

Police had traced the source of the malicious rumour to Ms Rinda's Facebook page, national police chief Somyot Pumunmuang said at the press conference.

Police then sought a warrant for her arrest from the military court  for violations of the Computer Crimes Act.

A police investigation also revealed  the suspect had connections with the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) group in Pathum Thani, and a link to a network run by a fugitive lese majeste suspect using the pseudonym Anek San Francisco.

Pol Gen Somyot said Ms Rinda admitted to having posted false messages about Gen Prayut's alleged cash transfers. He warned people against posting or forwarding messages with content that might cause damage or violate the rights of others. 

Speaking during the press conference, Ms Rinda admitted she had posted the messages, but claimed they were forwarded via Line Chat app. 

She insisted she had no intention of causing damage to the country, but thought that as a Thai citizen she had the right to express her views of the prime minister, who is a public figure.

However, she conceded the messages she posted had content that affected others. She advised other Internet users to be extra cautious when posting messages on issues that could prove sensitive.

Ms Rinda said she was not well-versed in using social media. The Facebook page she used to post the messages about the prime minister was previously used by her ex-husband, she said. 

She did not know which groups or Facebook pages he was a member of.

"I sometimes post messages on political issues. The messages about political groups are old information posted three years ago.

"This Facebook account was previously used by my ex-husband. I don’t know how to remove those messages," she said.

"I did post the message [about the alleged cash transfers] innocently. I thank the military for treating me well and I am willing to give my full cooperation," Ms Rinda said.

She denied knowing Anek San Francisco, when asked.

Pol Maj Gen Siripong Timula, commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), said his team and others had looked into the rumours and found that the messages were posted by a Facebook account holder using the name "Rinda Tangsiripornpitak".  They also found links with the UDD network in Pathum Thani, he added.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday totally rejected the rumour as untrue. He appealed to the public to "think rationally"  when passing judgement on any rumour about the government.


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