We’ve all said things we don’t really mean in text messages. But when a retired Thai truck driver sent an SMS that insulted his king, he got more than he bargained for. Twenty years more, in fact.
Because, according to the New York Times, a jury found Ampon Tangnoppakul’s text messages offensive enough to the Thai royal family that they sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Tangnoppakul, 61, was sentenced to five years in prison for each offensive message he sent.
To make this clear: he didn’t send a text message to the king. Or any member of the royal family. But under Thai law, that doesn’t matter. Harsh penalties exist for making insults or threats directed at King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family, even in private communications.
The guy’s lawyer, Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, told the New York Times:
“He insists that he does not know how to send text messages. He insists that he loves His Majesty the King.”
The text messages in question were received by a senior government official, and it’s claimed that they defamed, insulted and threatened the king and his wife. The judge apparently rejected Ampon’s claims that his phone was being repaired at the time the messages were sent last May.
Sadly for us, the contents of the messages wasn’t revealed in court. It’s a shame for Ampon that this didn’t happen in Pakistan, though, because if the text messages included the occasional rude word, they might never have even made it to the recipient. [New York Times]