Dec 8 - A Thai-born U.S. citizen is starting a jail term for insulting Thailand's monarchy. Paul Chapman reports.
Thai-born U.S. citizen Joe Gordon, seen here arriving at court on Thursday to learn his fate, is starting a two-and-a-half year jail term for insulting the nation's monarchy. Gordon pleaded guilty to the charge in October. Prosecutors said he used the internet to disseminate material posted on his blog in the U.S. He was also accused of supplying a web link to a biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej which is banned in Thailand. Gordon, also named Lerpong Wichaikhammat, initially denied all charges until he was refused bail eight times. The U.S. consul general in Thailand says it's a difficult situation. SOUNDBITE: Elizabeth Pratt, consul general, U.S. Embassy in Thailand, saying (English): "We continue to have full respect for the Thai monarchy and we also want to support the right to freedom of expression which is an internationally recognised human right." Many Thais consider the king to be almost divine. But the number of cases of lese majeste, particularly ones lodged by the military, has jumped in recent years. Critics say the law is being used to discredit politicians and activists. For Joe Gordon it's a charge which comes with a heavy price. Paul Chapman, Reuters