International - POSTED: 2012/05/30 10:14
A court sentenced a Thai webmaster Wednesday to an eight-month suspended sentence for not moving quickly enough to delete online comments deemed insulting to the country's royalty in a case widely seen as a test of freedom of expression in Thailand.
While the ruling showed leniency, it also sent the message that Internet content in the Southeast Asian nation must be self-censored. Chiranuch Premchaiporn had faced up to 20 years in prison for failing to quickly remove 10 comments others had posted on her Prachatai news website.
She told reporters she found the verdict reasonable but still had thought she would be acquitted.
The case drew international concern over censorship of the Internet in general and the liability of a website operator for comments posted by a third party.
"Today's guilty verdict for Chiranuch Premchaiporn, for something somebody else wrote on her website, is a serious threat to the future of the Internet in Thailand," Taj Meadows, Asia Pacific spokesman for Internet services giant Google, said by email.