From The Guardian:
A leading Bangkok-based professor who has joint British and Thai nationality fled Thailand at the weekend in the face of a lengthy sentence under the country’s draconian lese-majesty laws, which forbid criticism of the king.He is the latest person to face prosecution under the laws, seen as an attempt by the government to stifle dissent.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, 54, arrived in England at the weekend after being charged under the laws. He had been due to present himself to the police in Bangkok today and could have faced 15 years in jail if found guilty.
“I did not believe I would receive a fair trial,” said Ungpakorn, an associate professor of political science at Chulalongkom University and a contributor to the New Statesman and Asian Sentinel.”
Ungpakorn, who has an English mother and son, and who studied at Sussex and Durham universities and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, is the author of A Coup for the Rich, in which he criticises the 2006 military coup.
He said that the charges arose out of eight paragraphs in the first chapter deemed insulting to King Bhumibol. He claimed that the director of a university bookshop stocking his book had informed the special branch that it “insulted the monarchy”. The offending paragraphs deal with incidents around the coup.
“It is clear that the charge is really about preventing any discussion about the relationship between the military junta and the monarchy,” Ungpakorn said. “This is in order to protect the military’s sole claim to legitimacy: that it acted in the interests of the monarchy.”
He said a website had been set up so people could inform on anyone alleged to have violated the law. “There is a climate of fear,” he said.