Thai officials said Wednesday they obtained an arrest warrant for a London-based Thai woman who allegedly used Facebook to spread false information about the junta, as rights activists raised concern over what they described as “criminalization of freedom of expression” in Southeast Asia.
Watana Ebbage, 56, who administers the Facebook page “KonthaiUK” from England, is to be arrested for allegedly posting graphic images that affected national security, Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters in Bangkok.
“We issued a red warrant,” Prawit told reporters at the Defense Ministry in Bangkok, using another term for an Interpol “red notice” or an international arrest warrant issued against people wanted for extradition.
Prawit described Watana as “the one with penchant of distorting news about the prime minister.”
Watana’s post included images of airships, satellites and photos of Prawit and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader. The posting implied that the government’s recent plan to buy satellites and its U.S. $10 million (321 million baht) purchase of a faulty blimp, which was dumped last year, were part of a corrupt scheme.
The Facebook post read: “The balloon was a dud, but you want to buy 91.2 billion baht ($2.84 billion) satellite for kickback. Do we let them do it?”
“Such modifications may cause panic among people who may believe the information is real,” Thai tourist police chief Surachate Hakparn told reporters, referring to Watana’s post.
The blimp was plagued by a series of malfunctions before it was decommissioned in 2017. Meanwhile, the Thai defense ministry announced last week that it was studying the feasibility of building or acquiring its own satellites.
The court approved the warrant for Watana’s arrest on the charge of importing information into a computer system that compromises national security after authorities determined that she was the registrant of the Facebook page.
Full story: BenarNews
Wilawan Watcharasakwet and Nontarat Phaicharoen
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