Lese majeste suspect bailed after almost 5 years behind bars

Lese majeste suspect bailed after almost 5 years behind bars

Daughter drops classes to support family

Siraphop Kornaroot hugs his daughters after his release from the Bangkok Remand Prison on Tuesday. (Photo from @iLawClub Facebook account)
Siraphop Kornaroot hugs his daughters after his release from the Bangkok Remand Prison on Tuesday. (Photo from @iLawClub Facebook account)

After almost five years in detention, a web and Facebook blogger has been temporarily released to fight two serious charges.

Siraphop Kornaroot was granted bail by the Bangkok Military Court and temporarily freed from the Bangkok Remand Prison on Tuesday evening after his lawyers posted the 500,000 baht bond required by the court, according to iLaw, an independent advocacy group promoting human rights and democracy. 

Mr Siraphop, 52, faces charges of lese majeste and violation of the Computer Crime Act charges over three articles and poems written under his pen name, Rungsira. He was arrested in June 2014 and detained at the prison in July of the same year.

His lawyers and supporters tried unsuccessfully to secure his bail on six previous occasions.

The writer hugged his daughters on leaving the prison and pledged to continue to defend himself against the accusations. Support and international pressure could be the reason for his temporary release, he added.

One of his daughters had to drop her studies and take a job during his detention. "My release could help my daughter to return to studying," iLaw quoted him as saying.

Mr Siraphop said only three witnesses have testified since his case first went to court.

He thanked all his supporters for their help in securing his release on bail and said many political prisoners are still in the prison and they should not be forgotten.

Mr Siraphop's case has received international attention, including from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which on April 24 adopted a resolution expressing concern about his detention and lengthy legal proceedings. The working group was set up by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has also campaigned for the writer's release. "Siraphop's release on bail is welcome but he should not have spent a day in prison and he should have never experienced such an unfair judicial odyssey," the group's Asia Director, Andrea Giorgetta, told the Bangkok Post by email. "Thai authorities must ensure that no one is imprisoned for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression."

Mr Siraphop faces up to 45 years in jail.


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