Thai reporter arrested over protest graffiti coverage

BANGKOK (AFP): A Thai journalist was arrested on Monday over a graffiti incident that he reported on, his company and a legal rights group said.

Prachatai, an independent online newspaper said its reporter Nuttaphol Meksobhon was arrested as an “accomplice” in the damaging of a historic monument.

The allegation relates to an incident last March in which a man spray-painted an anarchist symbol and the number 112 with a line through it on the outside wall of Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The act, caught on video, was widely reported in Thai media because the temple is part of a complex of historic royal buildings, and 112 is a reference to the kingdom’s controversial lese-majeste laws.

Critics say the laws protecting King Maha Vajiralongkorn from abuse, known as 112 after the relevant section of the criminal code, are misused to stifle debate, and protesters called for their reform in mass street demonstrations in 2020 and 2021.

Prachatai said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that Nuttaphol was one of several reporters at the incident.

“He went there to do his duty which was covering the news,” Prachatai editor Tewarit Maneechai told AFP.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, a legal rights group that often handles lese-majeste cases, confirmed the reporter was arrested on suspicion of aiding in the damaging of a historic site.