BANGKOK — An activist-turned-lawmaker in Thailand was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday (December 13) for insulting the powerful monarchy, her lawyer said, over a series of posts a judge deemed defamatory to the crown.
Rukchanok Srinork, 29, of the progressive Move Forward Party faces disqualification as a member of parliament for Bangkok if the court does not grant her bail on Wednesday, her lawyer and fellow lawmaker Weeranan Huadsri told Reuters, adding she would appeal the sentence.
The court could not be reached for confirmation of the sentence. Thailand’s courts do not publicise all legal proceedings and the palace typically does not comment on convictions under the lese-majeste law.
The law is one of the strictest of its kind in the world, protecting Thailand’s king, queen, heir and regent from criticism and carrying a jail sentence of 15 years for each perceived insult to the monarchy.
Rukchanok was found guilty over posts in 2020 on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, where she criticised the involvement of a company owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn in the manufacturing of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Rukchanok gained prominence as an activist in an anti-government, youth-led democracy movement that called for reforms to the palace and the lese-majeste law and at times drew crowds of more than 100,000 people.
She later joined Move Forward, which campaigned to amend the royal insults law and was elected to parliament in a May general election. Move Forward won the election but failed to form a government, with strong opposition from lawmakers appointed by or allied with the royalist military.
At least 262 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy since 2020, according to data tracked by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights advocacy group. REUTERS