Jamon Sonpednarin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Jamon Sonpednarin was arrested at a Thai border checkpoint at Kanchanaburi province while attempting to cross into neighboring Myanmar for reporting purposes. He was initially held at Kanchanaburi police station before being transferred to northeastern Loei province’s Wang Saphung police station on November 30, according to local news reports.

Jamon faced criminal trespassing charges filed by the local Thung Kham Company for reporting on activists protesting a copper mining project in Loei province in 2015. Police acted on an arrest warrant related to the charges pending from 2016, reports said. Jamon wrote on his personal Facebook page that he had never received a summons or been notified of a warrant, reports said.

A Loei public prosecutor indicted two activist defendants on May 24, 2016, on charges of violating sections 83, 362 and 365 of the penal code, provisions which define the crime of trespassing, reports said. The company’s complaint also referred to other individuals unnamed in the reports. Penalties under the law carry maximum five-year jail terms and/or 10,000 baht (US$303) fines, the reports said.

Loei provincial court dismissed the trespassing case against the two defendants on November 25, 2016, because the plaintiff company’s concession to use the land granted by the government’s Royal Forest Department had expired, reports said.

Jamon’s defense lawyer, Teeraphan Phankiri, said he would ask the court to drop the charges because the original case had already been dismissed, reports said. The court was scheduled to decide on whether to pursue criminal trespassing charges against Jamon on January 8, 2018.

Jamon has reported on environmental and land rights issues for over five years, including for Thai public broadcaster PBS and news website Prachatai, the latter reported. Jamon was still being held at Loei province’s Saphung police station when CPJ conducted its census at midnight on December 1, 2017, but was released on bail later that day, Prachatai reported.