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News site confirms first arrest under new Computer Crime Act

(SEAPA/IFEX) - A local online news service is reporting that at least one person has been arrested in Bangkok under Thailand's new Computer Crime Act, which came into effect on 18 July 2007. Prachatai.com ( http://prachatai.com ) confirms a 1 September "Financial Times" of London report which quoted its own unnamed sources in reporting that the first arrest under the new law had taken place in late August.

Thai media, human rights advocates and free expression organisations had expressed concerns over the Computer Crime Act even as it was being considered earlier this year, saying its penal nature and its provisions for coming down even on webmasters would have a chilling effect on online expression in Thailand.

Web advocates, bloggers, and the media in Thailand were scrambling over the weekend of 1-2 September to confirm the "Financial Times" report. On 4 September, Prachatai.com said its sources had confirmed that the arrested person - still unnamed in the report - "is a 36-year-old computer programmer who posted comments on web-boards using a well-known alias." The online news provider and Internet forum added that the detainee "was detained for six days at the Police Crime Suppression Division office before being transferred to the remand prison on 30 August. He has yet to see his family members and consult a lawyer."

Prachatai.com's report ( http://www.prachatai.com/english/news.php?id=180 ) said: "Fah Deaw Kan publishing house released a statement calling on the government and relevant agencies, especially the Information and Communications Technology Ministry and the police, to confirm this news and to allow observers to visit Bangkok Remand Prison and other prisons. And if there was an arrest, the government and its agencies must respect the detainee's right to justice, the publisher said."

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