Thai man faces 37 years in prison for insulting king’s dog on social media
Factory worker Thanakorn Siripaiboon has been charged by a Thai military court for allegedly making “sarcastic” comments on social media about King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s dog. He faces almost 40 years in jail for the charge, and for separate changes of sedition and insulting the king.
The accused’s lawyer, Anon Numpa, told the International New York Times that the military had not divulged the precise insult towards the king’s dog, called Tongdaeng (meaning Copper). “I never imagined they would use the law for the royal dog,” he said. “It’s nonsense.”
Thailand’s lèse-majesté (injured majesty) laws have become increasing strict in the wake of a power grab by royalist generals in May 2014. Earlier this year, a man was jailed for 30 years for insulting the Thai monarchy on Facebook. Last year, a Thai scholar was investigated for insulting a medieval king. According to Thai police, the US ambassador Glyn Davies is also being investigated after mentioning “lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences” in a speech to foreign correspondents.
The case of Thanakorn Siripaiboon has not been printed by the International New York Times in Thailand, which The Guardian claims is the fourth time the Thai printer has refused to publish International New York Times articles relating to Thailand.
The king’s dog Tongdaeng has been the subject of a book, written by the king. Rescued from an alley as a puppy, the dog has become somewhat of a household name in Thailand – praised by the authorities for her obedience. That book is now an animated film, titled Khun Tongdaeng: The Inspiration – second in the Thai box office.