Thai man imprisoned for anti-royalty texts dies

May 8, 2012, 6:09 PM

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) – A 62-year-old Thai man who became known as “Uncle SMS” after he was convicted of defaming Thailand’s royal family in text messages died Tuesday while serving a 20-year prison term.

The case of Amphon Tangnoppakul, who had suffered from mouth cancer, drew attention to Thailand’s severe lese majeste law last November when he received one of the heaviest-ever sentences for someone accused of insulting the monarchy.

As news of his death spread, about 40 demonstrators gathered outside Bangkok’s Central Criminal Court holding signs denouncing the royal defamation law and holding leaflets saying “Uncle is dead. Who killed him?”

His wife, Rosmalin Tangnoppakul, learned of his death while trying to visit him Tuesday at the Bangkok prison where he was held. Friends later consoled her at a prison reception area while she burned an incense stick and prayed.

“Amphon Tangnoppakul, you can come home now,” she said. “You’re free now. Come home!”

The cause of Amphon’s death early Tuesday was not immediately known, but he had complained of stomach pains on Friday and was transferred to a correctional department hospital, his lawyer Anon Numpa said. Officials planned an autopsy on Wednesday, the lawyer said.

Amphon, a retired truck driver, was arrested in August 2010 and accused of using a cellphone to send four text messages to a government official that were deemed offensive to the queen. He denied sending them and said he didn’t even know how to use the SMS function on his telephone to send texts.

He wept during his court proceedings, saying, “I love the king.”

The sentence was believed to be the heaviest ever received in a lese majeste case because of additional penalties issued under a related law, the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

Before his arrest, Amphon had lived with his wife, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren in a rented room in Samut Prakan province, on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Opponents of the lese majeste law _ known as Article 112 _ have been seeking its reform or abolition, but have met with fierce opposition from royalists.

“He was the victim of this draconian law, Article 112,” said Suda Rangkupan, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer and member of the group Friends of Thai Political Prisoners. “And we also want to show … to the Thai court, that this death was caused by injustice in Thailand.”

The U.S. State Department reiterated its criticism of Amphon’s imprisonment.

“No one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their views whether through text messaging or peacefully protesting on the street,” spokesman Mark Toner said at a news conference.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Technology

A police car patrols the street as residents gather nearby, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Shanghai. Hac...
Associated Press

Alleged Chinese police database hack leaks data of 1 billion

HONG KONG (AP) — Hackers claim to have obtained a trove of data on 1 billion Chinese from a Shanghai police database in a leak that, if confirmed, could be one of the largest data breaches in history. In a post on the online hacking forum Breach Forums last week, someone using the handle “ChinaDan” […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

UK military investigates hacks on Army social media accounts

LONDON (AP) — British military authorities are trying to find out who hacked the army’s social media accounts over the weekend, flooding them with cryptocurrency videos and posts related to collectible electronic art. The investigation was launched after authorized content on the army’s YouTube account was replaced with a video feed promoting cryptocurrencies that included […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

NASA satellite breaks from orbit around Earth, heads to moon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was […]
1 day ago
A person walks past a notice for customers posted on the entrance of an "au" mobile brand operator ...
Associated Press

Outages disrupt services at Japan’s No. 2 telecoms carrier

TOKYO (AP) — Many users of Japan’s No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp. were still having trouble making calls Monday after a massive outage throughout the weekend that affected nearly 40 million people, disrupting deliveries, weather reports and other services across the country. The company said data transmission had largely been restored by Monday morning, […]
1 day ago
FILE - Lina Khan, nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, speaks during a Senate ...
Associated Press

Ruling could dampen government efforts to rein in Big Tech

The Supreme Court’s latest climate change ruling could dampen efforts by federal agencies to rein in the tech industry, which went largely unregulated for decades as the government tried to catch up to changes wrought by the internet. In the 6-3 decision that was narrowly tailored to the Environmental Protection Agency, the court ruled Thursday […]
2 days ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Associated Press

Google to erase more location info as abortion bans expand

Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Thai man imprisoned for anti-royalty texts dies