As Thailand’s reputation continues to sink when it comes to freedom of expression and speech (they are now #153 out of 178 countries on Reporters Without Borders press freedom list), it was announced on Thai TV just a few minutes ago that American, Joe Gordon, has been given a 2.5 year sentence for ‘lese majeste’, the crime of insulting a member of the royal family.
Joe Gordon’s crime? While living in America, he posted a link to a book about the king that’s banned in Thailand, and translated some of the book into Thai. When he arrived in Thailand to get needed medical care he was arrested and imprisoned. Today he learned of his fate.
Thailand has the world’s most restrictive lese majeste laws, and is increasingly being criticized for them by European governments and by the US government.
There have been more than 100 recent cases of Thais being arrested and imprisoned for ‘lese majeste’, the latest being that of a 61-year-old grandfather who was just given a 20 year prison term for sending four SMS messages that allegedly insulted the Thai queen (I have to say ‘allegedly’ as, in Thailand, they are not allowed to be republished and nobody is allowed to read them, so I do not know if that is true). The man and his family continue to insist he is innocent, saying he does not even know how to send SMS messages, but a Thai court convicted him anyway.
In the case of Joe Gordon, he was born in Thailand but has lived in the US for more than 30 years and is an American citizen. Some people have said he was treated more severely because he is Thai ethnicity but this is not the case.
Thai authorities have made it very clear that even foreign tourists will be arrested upon arrival in Thailand if it is shown they have either posted negative comments about the royal family or have clicked ‘Like’ on a Facebook post in which someone else has left a negative comment.
Can’t say that’s going to do much for the Thai tourist industry. Can you?
Joe Gordon, meanwhile, after being sentenced said, “I am an American citizen and what happened was in America”.
You can’t argue with that.
Special Note: You will notice all of my articles about lese majeste do not allow you to comment. That is because I can be arrested and jailed in Thailand if somebody leaves an offensive comment on my article and I don’t remove it quickly enough. As lodeplus.com does not give us permission to remove comments, I cannot take that chance, so unfortunately you will not be allowed to comment. There are many other places on other American websites where you can.