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Royal insult: Thai MP jailed

BANGKOK (AFP) A Thai court on Wednesday sentenced a lawmaker from the progressive Move Forward Party to six years in jail on royal insult charges, the party’s leader said.

Rukchanok Srinork was found guilty of lese majeste and breaching the Computer Crimes Act for reposting two messages on X, formerly Twitter.

MFP won the most seats in the May general election but was blocked from forming a government by conservative forces opposed to its pledge to reform the kingdom’s tough royal defamation laws.

“Rakchanok Srinork was sentenced to three years on a 112 (lese majeste) charge and three years on a Computer Crimes Act charge,” MFP leader Chaithawat Tulathon told AFP.

Chaithawat said the 29-year-old had applied for bail and offered 300,000 baht ($8,500) as security.

The court is expected to decide on bail later Wednesday, but if she is unsuccessful, she will automatically be struck off as an MP.

Rukchanok rose to prominence riding a bike round Bangkok’s traffic-clogged streets while campaigning for the May election.

Thailand has some of the world’s strictest lese-majeste legislation, shielding King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his close family from criticism — but which critics say has been weaponised to silence dissent.

The Computer Crimes Act has also been criticised by rights groups as giving overly broad powers to the authorities to restrict free speech.

There has been an upsurge in charges under the laws — known in Thailand as “112” after the relevant section of the criminal code — since youth-led pro-democracy street protests in 2020.

Authorities have charged more than 250 activists with 112 and jailed some of the top leaders including Anon Numpa, a human rights lawyer who previously represented Rukchanok.