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Thai news editor jailed for 5 year-old article allegedly defaming King Bhumibol Adulyadej

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

November 24, 2014 | 3 min read

The editor of Thai news site E-News has been sentenced to four and a half years for an article published half a decade ago which allegedly defamed King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

E-News is now blocked by Thai censors

Former editor Nut Rungwong pled guilty to breaching lese-majesty law on Monday, defaming the king in an article he edited in 2009, according to the Washington Post.

As a result of his guilty plea however, Rungwong’s sentence was dropped from 15 years, to under five, with the judge not authorised to speak to the press on his decision.

The offending article was written by Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai reformist and political scientist, who fled to Britain to escape the backlash. Furthermore, E-News which claims to provide a fair scrutiny of Thai democracy has as a result of the article, been blocked by state sensors.

This comes during a period of legal recriminations for those who have spoken out against the monarchy since the army seized control of the nation in May. The Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, remains the world’s longest-reigning monarch; he will turn 87 on 5 December.

As the army tries to maintain control, free speech has been severely restricted in the country. In August, Thai sensors banned sales of Tropico 5, a satirical game where users take the role of a dictator running a military junta, in a bid to preserve “peace and order”.

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