Article 14 of Thailand’s very wide-ranging Computer Crime Act makes it an offence to import any false information into a computer system such as a website or social network. The MP has been investigated for political remarks made in a live broadcast last year on the popular social network.

Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two members of the opposition party will be told on the first day of October if they are to face criminal charges in court over a Facebook live broadcast on June 26th last year.

A lawyer for the Future Forward leader and MP was informed on Monday by the Attorney General’s Office that the decision on whether to prosecute the case against him under the Computer Crime Act will be revealed on October 1st. Arrangements are being made for bail sureties if required.

The leader of Thailand’s second-largest opposition party Future Forward and two of his party associates will learn on October 1st if prosecutors are pursuing charges against them under Thailand’s wide-ranging Computer Crime Act in relation to comments made last year on a Facebook live appearance.

MP will learn if he faces an indictment under Thailand’s powerful Computer Crime Act

This week, prosecutors set the date to inform the 40-year old Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit who is an MP if he will face an indictment under the act. The two other party executives are party registrar Klaikong Waithayakan and member of the executive board Jaruwan Saranket.

Charges focus on Thanathron’s comments on the junta seeking election candidates

The focus of the case are comments made by Mr Thanathorn in exchanges online which suggested that the then National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which is now defunct, was making efforts to recruit election candidates ahead of the general election which ultimately took place on March 24th last. Mr Thanthorn’s Future Forward Party which was only formed in March last year did spectacularly well in the poll emerging with up to 18% of the vote and 81 seats in parliament.

Future Forward is now a key player in the seven-party opposition block to the government

The Future party is now a core player in a seven-party opposition coalition to the government led by the Pheu Thai Party which has been associated with ex-premier Thaksin Shiwaytra and his sister Yingluck. Future Forward ran in the election on a progressive, social democratic agenda which is also implacably imposed to the rule of the military in Thai politics.

Public prosecutors received a full report from the crime technology division of the Royal Thai Police

The Tuesday, October 1st date for meeting with prosecutors was communicated to Mr Thanathorn’s lawyer through the office of the Attorney General. The public prosecutors have already received a full report from technology crime suppression police on the case. The lawyer for Mr Tanathorn said his client and the other defendants were making preparations for bail on the date if legal proceedings against the trio are to proceed.

Facebook live broadcast took place on June 26th last year – ‘The Future We Want’ 

The Facebook live broadcast that became so contentious took place on June 26th 2018. It was entitled ‘The Future We Want’ and was followed by a complaint from Colonel Burin Thongprapai of the National Council of Peace and Order to the Royal Thai Police. The charges against the Future Forward Party leader and operatives is that they breached Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act by importing false information into a computer system. In this case, these were verbal comments which the now-defunct NCPO construed as baseless and untrue.

Decision on the case postponed before

The decision in the case has been postponed a number of times. Prior to the election, Mr Thanathorn in an interview with the Bangkok Post newspaper said that he was not worried about the charges as he was only repeating what had been speculated upon by many media sources in Thailand. 

The Future Forward leader is currently suspended from his duties as an MP as the Constitutional Court also considers a case against him in relation to prohibited media shareholdings in a case referred to it by Thailand’s election commission.

Further reading:

40 year old Thai billionaire and emerging election winner may face prosecution for Facebook post

Future Forward Party and leader are Thai junta’s worst nightmare in March 24th general election

Koh Tao claims by UK teenager questioned by Thai police – arrest warrants indicated for some media

Thailand passes new cyber security law allowing authorities more power to fight cyber crime and threats

Thai Government warns about fake news online as political discourse picks up before elections