Move Forward Party MP Rukchanok Srinork, 29, was sentenced to prison time for posts deemed defamatory to the crown.
A Thai activist-turned-lawmaker has been sentenced to six years in prison for insulting the country’s powerful monarchy on social media.
Move Forward Party (MFP) MP Rukchanok Srinork was sentenced on Wednesday over a series of posts that a judge deemed defamatory to the crown, her lawyer and members of her progressive political party said.
“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 the AFP news agency.
Srinork has applied for bail and offered 300,000 baht ($8,500) as security.
The 29-year-old faces disqualification as a member of parliament for Bangkok if the court does not grant her bail, her lawyer and fellow lawmaker Weeranan Huadsri told the Reuters news agency, adding she would appeal the sentence.
Rukchanok was convicted for retweeting posts in 2020 on the social media platform now known as X that related to a company owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine. She denies all charges.
Thailand’s lese-majeste law is one of the strictest of its kind in the world, protecting the king, queen, heir and regent from criticism and carrying a jail sentence of 15 years for each perceived insult to the monarchy.
Critics say the law 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.
Rukchanok gained prominence as an activist in an antigovernment, 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 the progressive MFP, which campaigned to amend the royal insults law and was elected to parliament in May’s general election.
MFP won the vote but failed to form a government amid 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 the advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.