(Corrects spelling of activist's second name in paragraph 2)
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre
BANGKOK, June 12 A prominent Thai activist who
organised protests against last month's coup could face up to 14
years in jail after being charged on Thursday with inciting
unrest, violating cyber laws and defying the junta's orders.
Sombat Boonngamanong spearheaded an online campaign
promoting flash mob rallies against the military takeover, via a
Facebook page bearing the message "Catch Me if You Can". He has
denied all charges.
He was among more than 300 activists, politicians and
journalists detained since the military seized power on May 22.
Many have been held at undisclosed locations.
"He is charged with instigating unrest through Facebook,
which is a violation of the Computer Crimes Act," said
Prasopchoke Prommul, deputy commander of the police's crime
"Another charge is not reporting himself to the military."
Under martial law, gatherings of more than five people are
banned and violators have been swiftly arrested by uniformed and
The junta has cracked down hard on dissent and said on
Wednesday it had shut down 112 "inappropriate websites", 250
radio stations and 20 television channels since the coup.
A member of the "red shirt" movement which broadly supports
fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Sombat was caught
last week in Chonburi, east of Bangkok, by police who traced him
via the Internet network he was using.
A court granted police permission to hold and interrogate
him for 12 more days on Thursday. Sombat could be tried by a
Chaturon Chaisang, a former education minister in the ousted
government, was arrested by soldiers last month during a news
conference at Bangkok's foreign correspondents' club. He faces
trial in a military court for refusing to answer a summons by
the army regime.
"LOVE THE COUNTRY"
Thailand's military stepped in after six months of political
deadlock, the latest episode in a decade old conflict between
the Bangkok-based royalist establishment and the mostly
rural-based supporters of ousted premier Yingluck Shinawatra and
her brother, Thaksin.
The army has sought to win public approval in numerous ways,
including the staging of street festivals designed to "bring
back happiness to the Thai people".
It has ordered television regulators to ensure all 64
matches in the upcoming soccer World Cup can be viewed on
free-to-air channels, even though entertainment company RS Pcl
had already bought rights to the matches.
But the military's campaign to win hearts has not won
everyone over. A group of Thai political leaders allied to
Thaksin say they will form an overseas movement to resist the
"Returning happiness is just a stunt and a lie. The only way
we will be happy is to overthrow these villains," Jakrapob
Penkair, a former government minister and red-shirt founding
member, said in a post on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
"We have founded an organisation to fight dictatorship
already. The coming days will be historic for Thailand."
A midnight to 4 a.m. curfew remains in force in Bangkok, but
it has been lifted in 30 provinces over the past week to support
tourism, which accounts for about 10 percent of the economy.
The junta has warned against any criticism of the military,
including in schools, and government officials are also being
encouraged to report on each other.
"Some civil servants act in a way that does not respect the
nation and does not build national unity. I want people to love
the country very much," Panadda Diskul, deputy permanent
secretary for the interior, told Reuters.
"I urge people to report any civil servant that still acts
inappropriately or speaks in an unconstructive manner."
(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by