Thanathorn may face computer crime charges

Thanathorn may face computer crime charges

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks at the Future Forward Party's first meeting where he was elected party leader at Thammasat University on May 27. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks at the Future Forward Party's first meeting where he was elected party leader at Thammasat University on May 27. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward group, may face a computer crime charge involving his Facebook Live broadcasting.

The former automotive tycoon, together with Klaikong Vaidhyakarn, acting party registrar, and the group’s legal team, met computer crime police on Tuesday to give statements after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) filed a complaint against the administrators of two of the group’s Facebook pages.

The accusation came after Mr Thanathorn and two others broadcast live on "The Future We Want" and “Thanathorn Juangroongraungkit” Facebook pages.

The commentators allegedly implicated the NCPO when they talked about the luring of former MPs by using the lawsuits against them as a bargaining chip.

The commentators also asked their Facebook followers to sign up to "revamp the judicial system".

Mr Thanathorn said he talked to the police for 1½ hours as a witness after the NCPO filed the complaint against the administrators of the Facebook pages, accusing them of violated Section 14 (2).

The provision involves importing false information into computer systems on issues which may compromise national security, public safety, economic security or public infrastructure, or cause panic among the public. The punishment is a jail term up to five years and/or a fine up to 100,000 baht  

Mr Thanathorn said he got first-hand information on such offers from a number of ex-MPs who were approached. "Besides, by now it’s common knowledge. I have no intention to accuse or tarnish the NCPO but its action shows it had really done it and views us as an enemy."

The NCPO, by Col Burin Thongprapai, filed the complaint two weeks ago.

“Mr Thanathorn mentioned the NCPO, which is a distortion of facts and an accusation against the NCPO. It’s also an attack on the judicial system.

“We asked the police to collect evidence to charge Mr Thanathorn and his group members later," he said.

Pol Lt Col Athiluck Wangsirivorakul, deputy superintendent of sub-division 3 of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, said his team talked to Mr Thanathorn and others as witnesses but they refused to give statements.

While Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has denied any involvement with Sam Mitr, the group that is luring former MPs from several parties, the group made clear it would support him as prime minister after the general election. Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is also one of the core members of the group.

Future Forward is in the process of applying to become a party and has yet to be approved by the Election Commission.

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