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A Thai man has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for selling video CDs containing footage of an Australian news program that questioned the future of Thailand’s monarchy.
Akachai Hongkangwan, 37, was sentenced under the country’s lese-majeste laws, which prohibit disparagement of the royal family. The laws are considered the harshest of their type in the world and have been criticized by international legal scholars, but they enjoy widespread support in Thailand, where King Bhumibol Adulyadej — the world’s longest-sitting monarch — is revered.
The videos Akachai was selling are said to have included a 2010 segment from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Foreign Correspondent series that explored challenges the Thai monarchy will face after the 85-year-old king dies, according to an Associated Press report late Thursday. The segment included snippets from a leaked private video of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn with his then-fiance (now wife).
Akachai was caught selling the videos during an anti-government protest in Bangkok in 2010. He was arrested in March 2011 and released on bail. The lese-majeste laws allow for a maximum term of 15 years, but the court reduced Akachai’s original sentence, saying he had been cooperative during the trial.
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