The court last night (Sept 12) released Wannapa Khamphiphot, a 30-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, on a B200,000 surety.
Last Thursday (Sept 6), authorities arrested Ms Wannapa at her house in Samut Prakan province for distributing black T-shirts with the logo of the pro-federation republic group calling itself ‘The Thai Federation’.
She was taken to the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok’s Dusit district for questioning before being handed over to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) for further investigation.
Police have charged her for violating the constitution and sedition as well as an act of running an illegal organisation.
According to police, Ms Wannapa received the T-shirts from her mother Somphit Sombathom, who is a member of the movement and is still at large in Laos. Up to 60 T-shirts had been distributed by Ms Wannapa and about 400 T-shirts in her possession were seized.
Ms Wannapa denied the charge, arguing she was ordered by her mother to send the T-shirts to people while she did not realise the meaning of the controversial logo on the shirts, said Phawini Chumsi, Ms Wannapa’s lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Centre.
According to the CSD, three other suspects, including a man named Kritsana Asasu, were earlier arrested by authorities for their alleged involvement in the movement.
Police told the court that the movement acts against the National Council for Peace and Order and has the objective of overthrowing the current political regime of the country to a federated republic.
The military regime has kept a close watch on anti-government groups which planned to stir disorder since 2014. Two years later, the ‘Thai Federation’ idea emerged on social media. It was believed that people behind the movement were in Laos, some European countries and the United States.
Meanwhile, former Pheu Thai MPs and red-shirt co-leaders have denied an accusation that their pro-Thaksin group is linked with an illegal movement.
Kokaew Pikunthong, a former Pheu Thai MP who co-leads the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, admitted yesterday that some suspects behind the sedition movement might have joined the UDD to call for democracy in the past, but now “they can’t be called UDD supporters”.
He viewed the claim of an alleged connection between the UDD and the Thai Federation idea, which is aimed at dividing the country into states, as an attempt to discredit the red shirts because it opposes the military government.
The UDD’s stance was clear from the beginning – a fight for democracy with the King as head of the nation, Mr Kokaew insisted. “We’re still here to call for democracy,” he said.
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