BANGKOK (AFP) – Thai police have banned a British journalist’s book about politics in Thailand for “defaming” the monarchy, an official said Thursday, in a country with one of the world’s strictest lese majeste laws.
The sale and distribution of “A Kingdom in Crisis” by freelance journalist and author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, formerly based in Bangkok, has been banned in Thailand a month after it was published by London-based Zed Books.
“The content insults, defames and threatens Thailand’s monarchy,” said national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung in a statement.
“The book is a danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society,” he said, adding that anyone found breaching the ban imposed on Tuesday could face up to three years in jail and a fine of 60,000 baht ($1,800).
Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, is protected by tough royal defamation rules under which anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.
Marshall’s book, which explores Thai politics including the taboo issue of royal succession, has been banned under the printing act rather than lese majeste legislation – seemingly widening the legal net to prevent debate about the monarchy.
Critics say the royal defamation law, as well as the later Computer Crimes Act, stifle free speech and are used to silence political opponents.