Thai webmaster conviction chills press freedom online

San Francisco, May 30, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s conviction of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of the Prachatai discussion board, under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act. The court’s decision, which affirms that website operators can be criminally liable for the content of user comments, chills online press freedom in the country, and leaves Thai news sites vulnerable to unjustified and politically motivated prosecutions.

“We are relieved that Chiranuch Premchaiporn herself is not facing jail,” said Danny O’Brien, CPJ’s Internet advocacy coordinator, who served as an expert witness during the trial. “However, Chiranuch’s conviction shows that Internet bystanders can still be caught up in expensive and uncertain criminal prosecutions for postings on their site they neither wrote, edited, nor support.”

Chiranuch was prosecuted for 10 comments posted on her site, deemed insulting to the monarchy, out of the thousands posted by users during the 2008 state of emergency in Thailand.  Prosecutors claimed that Chiranuch, under the country’s Computer Crimes Act, was personally liable for all content hosted on her service.