Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2012

Thailand: 1

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Voice of Taksin
Imprisoned: April 30, 2011

Somyot was arrested at a Thai border checkpoint at Aranyaprathet province while attempting to cross into neighboring Cambodia. He was held without bail in a Bangkok detention center for 84 days, the maximum period allowable under Thai criminal law, before formal lèse majesté charges were filed against him on July 26 of that year.

Somyot faced a possible prison term of 30 years on two separate charges under the country's lèse majesté law, which prohibits material deemed offensive to the royal family. Convictions under the law carry a maximum of 15-year jail terms. Lèse majesté charges have been abused for political purposes by both sides of the country's protracted political conflict.

The charges stemmed from two articles deemed critical of Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej that were published in the now-defunct Voice of Taksin, a highly partisan newsmagazine affiliated with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) political pressure group. The magazine had been accused in the past of publishing articles that incited UDD followers to violence.

Somyot, a labor activist and political protest leader, was founder and editor of the controversial publication. He refused to reveal the identity of the individual who wrote the contested articles in February and March 2010, both of which were published under the pseudonym "Jit Polachan," according to local media reports.

Somyot's trial ended in May 2012, but as of late year a verdict had not been announced. A Bangkok-based criminal court set a December 2012 hearing date. The court denied 10 different bail requests submitted by Somyot's lawyers since his initial arrest in April 2011.

In late year, Somyot was being held at Bangkok's Remand Prison. He was suffering from health complications, including hypertension and gout, according to the International Federation for Human Rights, an international human rights organization.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.