American jailed for defaming Thai king
An American was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a Thailand prison yesterday after he pleaded guilty to defaming the country's king in material he posted on the internet while living thousands of miles away in Colorado.
Joe Gordon was convicted of lese- majesty for translating excerpts of a biography of the monarch that is banned in Thailand. Lawyers for the 55-year-old Thai-born defendant said they hoped for a royal pardon.
"I am an American citizen, and what happened was in America," Mr Gordon, whose Thai name is Lerpong Wichaikhammat, told reporters after the case. The US consul general, Elizabeth Pratt, said the punishment was "severe because he has been sentenced for his right to freedom of expression".
The purported crime of Mr Gordon, who has lived in the US for 30 years, had been to upload pages of the 2006 book, The King Never Smiles, by Paul Handley, which he had translated into Thai. The book suggests 84-year-old King Bhumi-bol has been a stumbling block to democratic reforms.
Campaigners say his case again highlights the country's harsh defamation laws which are "routinely misused". Last month, a 61-year-old man, Amphon Tangnoppakul was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sending four text messages deemed to have defamed the monarchy.
The nation's anti-defamation laws, drawn up to protect the reputation of the monarchy, are among the most stringent in the world. Anyone found guilty faces up to 15 years in jail.
"The severity of penalties being meted out for lese-majesty offences in Thailand is shocking," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Cheryl Cole named 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Ebola virus in the US: What are the symptoms, what is it and is there a cure?
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...
£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...