Thailand has very strict laws regarding their king. They do not take too kindly to insults or even criticism regarding whoever’s king. BBC has managed to violate those strict laws regarding Thailand’s new king, according to the country’s military junta.
Now, authorities have begun an investigation into BBC’s Thai language bureau. Thailand’s new King, King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, was crowned recently and became the subject of a profile by BBC that centered around his personal life as crown prince.
The profile on Thailand’s new king drew criticism from the media and public. In his biography, BBC had included details about the king’s three divorces.
The international broadcaster had also questioned his desire to rule due to “persistent rumors of womanizing, gambling and illegal businesses.” There was also talk of the questionable deaths of several people who got on the bad side of the then crown prince.
Lese-majeste is the french term used to describe what BBC has allegedly done, which is offending and insulting the royal family’s dignity. It is a serious crime in Thailand and carries a prison term of up to 15 years.
After the article was published, the Thai army and police visited the BBC office, which is now closed. The BBC website is, however, still active but the link about Thailand’s new king has been blocked in the country. The profile is, however, still available outside the country.
Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Wednesday:
“Whatever is illegal will be processed accordingly, no exceptions.”
One prominent anti-junta activist, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, was arrested and charged on Saturday with lese-majesty for sharing the profile online. He has been released on bail but his will be known as the first lese-majesty arrest since King Rama X was proclaimed.