A military court in Thailand has sentenced a 34-year-old man to 35 years in prison for violating the country’s draconian lèse-majesté law, which criminalizes all perceived insult toward the nation’s monarchy.
Agence France-Presse reports that Wichai, whose last name has been withheld for the safety of his family, faced ten counts of lèse-majesté for photos and videos of the royal family that he allegedly shared on Facebook. His sentence is believed to be the harshest handed down to date of more than 100 cases of alleged royal defamation since the country’s military seized power in a 2014 coup.
A Thai legal watchdog group, iLaw, told AFP that Wichai was originally facing a 70 year sentence — ten years for each count — but his sentence was halved because he confessed to the crimes after spending a year in jail waiting for his trial.
Thailand’s lèse-majesté law is among the strictest of its kind; the legislation is ostensibly meant to protect the royal family from being defamed, but in practice is often used to suppress dissent. Violators can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, and complaints can be made by anyone, against anyone, at any time.