I have received the following appeal from Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT). This statement by the Asia Human Rights Commission is also relevant. Will things be any better if Pheua Thai win the election? I’m not confident.
H.E. Kristie A. Kenney
US Ambassador to Thailand
It is incumbent that the US government support US citizen Joe W. Gordon who has recently been arrested on multiple charges in Thailand, the country of his birth.
Mr. Gordon has been charged with the following crimes:
1) lèse majesté 3-15 years, Criminal Code article 112
2)‘inciting unrest and disobedience of the law in public’, unknown penalty and legislation
3) ‘disseminating computer data which threatens national security’, 3-5 years, Computer Crimes Act 2007
4)‘national security’ charge, presumably using the Internal security Act 2007, unknown penalty.
The accused is in poor health but is being held without bail which prevents mounting an effective legal defence. Past experience with the Thai judicial process has shown that an accused is most often held for several years awaiting trial.
According to legal experts, there is a 98% conviction rate for this kind of offence. I estimate that single counts on these charges would amount to a sentence of 60 to 80 years in prison. Past strategy for Thai prosecutions of this nature have shown multiple counts added to each charge, increasing prison sentences exponentially.
In addition to Mr. Gordon’s accused lèse majesté for allegedly linking to portions of the banned biography of King Bhumibol, The King Never Smiles in Thai translation, he stands accused of being webmaster for Thai political Redshirts at the NorPorChor USA website.
This accusation is most interesting because Tantawut Taweewarodomkul was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison March 15 for precisely the same crime. Of course, he had the temerity to plead not guilty which doubled his sentence.
Will the real NorPorChor USA webmaster please stand up! Both these men were easy targets simply because they were in Thailand rather than overseas.
The US government has been vocal about global Internet freedom during the current administration. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave forceful speeches against Internet censorship in January 2010 and again in January 2011.
The US government has made six million dollars available in 2008 and thirty million dollars in 2011 to circumvent Internet blocking around the globe.
If the United States does not support Joe Gordon against Thai censorship, all these efforts have been empty lies to make itself look free in the eyes of the world.
I am well aware that the US cannot intervene in the legal processes of any other country, even to protect its citizens.
However, that certainly does not mean that the US government cannot speak out–and loudly–against a grave injustice and the censorship which has made Joe Gordon a prisoner of conscience.
One of the first steps the US government should offer is to guarantee Mr. Gordon’s bail. It is unlikely any court would then refuse to grant it.
As an American living in Thailand, I wish this message to be conveyed to the State Department in Washington and the highest levels of government.
I welcome consulting with you over Joe Gordon’s case.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)