Red Shirt Jailed for Lèse-majesté

Bloomberg reports today:

A Thai man who helped lead anti- government protests was sentenced to seven and half years in jail for insulting the royal family.

Surachai Danwattananusorn, 68, had a 15-year prison term cut in half because he pleaded guilty to the charges, Bangkok’s Criminal Court said today. His legal team will seek a royal pardon, even as police investigate an additional complaint against Surachai, lawyer Karom Ponpornklang told reporters.

“Surachai has accused the monarchy of being behind protests and conflicts in the country,” the court said in its ruling. “This is not true as the monarchy’s activities are for the benefit of Thai people. His move is considered a severe offense and does not deserve a suspended punishment. He’s mature and he still does this.”

The AP says:

A Thai court has sentenced a member of the Red Shirt political movement to 7 1/2 years imprisonment for remarks judged to have insulted the country’s monarchy.

The court ruled Tuesday that 70-year-old Surachai Danwattananusorn made speeches against the monarchy three times in 2010.

Surachai was a communist insurgent in Thailand in the 1970s and was imprisoned in the 1980s. More recently he has led a faction of the Red Shirts, who that took to the streets and clashed with the military in 2010.

There are also stories from Reuters, the BBC, the Bangkok Post, and MCOT.

(Note that reports of his precise age are inconsistent.)