Thailand to try activist who shared king's profile on Facebook

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Thai activist, 3 December 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jatupat Boonpattararaksa's lawyer says he will fight the charges

Thailand will put an activist on trial for insulting the monarchy, after he shared a profile of new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, an opponent of the military-backed government, shared the profile published by BBC Thai on his Facebook page.

He was detained two days after the new king ascended the throne in December.

Thailand has very strict lese-majeste laws, which ban any criticism of the monarchy.

Human rights groups accuse the government of using the law to crack down on opponents.

The BBC post was shared by 2,410 people, but Mr Jatupat is the only one to have been charged.

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Mr Jatupat appeared briefly at the court in Khon Kaen, north-east Thailand, to hear the charges on Friday. Formal proceedings will begin in late March.

His lawyer said he had also been charged with violating the cyber crime law for sharing the link.

"He is still in good spirits and will fight," his lawyer Krisadang Nacharut told AFP news agency. He has denied both charges.

Mr Jatupat, who has been involved in anti-government protests in the past, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

He is thought to be the first person charged with lese-majeste since King Vajiralongkorn, 64, officially became monarch.

King Vajiralongkorn's father, the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died on 13 October at the age of 88 after seven decades on the throne.

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