FFP claims lawsuits are smear campaign
'Abuse' of computer crime law, says party
The Future Forward Party (FFP) reacted strongly Tuesday to the summoning of its deputy leader Lt Gen Phongsakon Rotchomphu by police over his role in sharing fake news about Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Facebook, saying the computer crime law was being exploited as a political tool.
FFP spokeswoman Pannika Wanich said the news had been shared by many, but only a handful of people -- including Lt Gen Phongsakon -- had been charged, which raised questions as to whether the law was being used to target the party.
The story implied that Gen Prawit had spent 12,000 baht of the Defence Ministry's budget on a cup of coffee.
Lt Gen Phongsakon had removed the post from his Facebook and issued an apology upon realising the report was fake, she said.
"The report didn't cause a public panic or affect national security. If it affected anyone, it would be Gen Prawit," she said.
This is the second computer crime case against key party figures, she noted.
FFP leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, FFP registrar Klaikong Waithayakan and party executive member Jaruwan Saranket face charges of inputting false information into a computer system over their remarks on June 26 last year that the regime was poaching former MPs.
"We think the computer crime law is problematic. It imposes heavy penalties and it is prone to being abused to silence political opponents," she said.
Immigration Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who is also deputy director of Thailand's Action Task Force for Information Technology Crime Suppression (Tactics), denied the action against Lt Gen Phongsakon is politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Mr Thanathorn used his Facebook to claim that a campaign was under way to discredit him and his party ahead of the elections.
The FFP leader was linked to an alleged fraud scandal involving Picnic cooking gas company and a timber milling business -- which he strongly denied.
According to Mr Thanathorn, he bought shares in Picnic several years after the scandal, and as a shareholder he never interfered in the company's operations.
He maintained the company with alleged links to a milling business was a "sleeping company" and it was being closed.