Police say US envoy cannot be prosecuted over FCCT speech

Police say US envoy cannot be prosecuted over FCCT speech

Ambassador Davies spoke to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Nov 25.
(Screen capture from FCCT video 'An Evening With Glyn Davies', via YouTube)
Ambassador Davies spoke to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Nov 25. (Screen capture from FCCT video 'An Evening With Glyn Davies', via YouTube)

Legal action cannot be taken against US ambassador Glyn Davies as he has diplomatic immunity, deputy police spokesman Piyaphan Pingmuang said Wednesday.

Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan's comment came after the Thai government-monitoring association representative, Sonthiya Sawasdee, filed a complaint against the envoy with the Crime Suppression Division.

He complained about a speech which the envoy gave about the government's imposition of jail terms for lese majeste cases at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Nov 25.

Although Mr Davies was named ambassador two days after he made his speech, he was still currently protected under diplomatic immunity, added Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan.

The deputy police spokesman made his comments while police at Lumpini station began an initial probe against the ambassador.

In his speech, Mr Davies expressed the US government's concern over the "unprecedented" prison terms handed down for violations of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, otherwise known as the lese majeste law, as well as the application of the country's criminal defamation laws.

In Washington Thursday morning (Thailand time), US State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters:

"The U.S. government has the utmost respect for the Thai monarchy. Ambassador Davies reiterated long-standing U.S. policy on the issue of freedom of expression."

Mr Kirby referred further questions to Thai authorities.

The speech sparked a protest by ultra-nationalists outside the American embassy on Nov 28.

"It's not yet a formal investigation as we're still in the process of gathering information," said a policeman at Lumpini station, which has jurisdiction over the area where the FCCT is located. "If we find the ambassador's remarks defamatory according to the law, we will launch an official investigation," he added.

Mr Davies declined to comment on the issue yesterday when he met Democrat Party executives.

"The party leader (Abhisit Vejjajiva) told the ambassador there are still attempts being made by some people to discredit the monarchy, which is why maintaining the law is needed to protect the royal family," said Kiat Sittheeamorn, deputy party chairman.

"We told Mr Davies that Thailand's lese majeste law is based on international principles," Mr Kiat said.


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