Journalist arrested for reporting protest graffiti

Journalist arrested for reporting protest graffiti
Tourists walk and take photos alongside the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Feb 11. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

A Thai journalist found himself in custody on Monday following his coverage of a graffiti incident, as reported by his employer and a legal advocacy organisation, AFP reported.

According to Prachatai, an online publication known for its independent stance, their journalist Nuttaphol Meksobhon was apprehended under allegations of being an “accomplice” in the defacement of a significant monument.

The incident under scrutiny traces back to last March, when an individual spray-painted an anarchist symbol alongside the number 112 with a line drawn through it on the exterior wall of Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

This act, captured on video, garnered extensive coverage due to the temple’s association with historic royal structures and the symbolic resonance of the number 112, emblematic of the kingdom’s contentious lese-majeste laws.

Critics have long argued that these laws, designed to shield the monarchy from defamation, are frequently exploited to suppress dissent.

Mass protests in 2020 and 2021 clamoured for reforms to these laws.

Prachatai, through a statement on social media, reiterated that Mr Nuttaphol was one of several journalists present at the scene, solely there to fulfill his journalistic duty.

Tewarit Maneechai, the editor of Prachatai, emphasised to AFP that Mr Nuttaphol was there to report the news.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, an organisation known for its involvement in lese-majeste cases, affirmed that the journalist was detained on suspicion of complicity in the vandalism of a historic site.

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