LESE-MAJESTY: Thailand jails US Citizen Joe Gordon for royal insult


LESE-MAJESTY: Thailand jails US Citizen Joe Gordon for royal insult
by Darius Kadivar

Thailand has jailed Joe Gordon, a US Citizen, for two and a half years afterhe admitted posting web links to a banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was initially sentenced to five years in jail, but the judges halved the term because of his guilty plea. Foreigners convicted of lese majeste are routinely pardoned and deported shortly after being sentenced. (See Related News)

Analyst on Thailand's monarch (Al Jazeera, Dec 5th, 2011)

King Bhumibol Adulyadej addressed thousands of Thais in a rare appearance on Monday. The monarch who turns 84, has been ill and living in hospital.

Thousands of the country's convicts will be released as part of the annual royal pardon to mark the royal's birthday but the fugitive ex-premier, Thaksin Shinawatra will not be on that list.

 Al Jazeera speaks to journalist and Southeast Asia analyst, Larry Jagan.

King makes rare appearance as Thais celebrate his birthday (Al Jazeera Dec 5th, 2011):

Thailand is celebrating its king's 83rd birthday on Sunday. King Bhumibol Adulyadej has ruled over his country for the last 65 years, making him the world's longestreigning monarch. 

But many are concerned about the worsening health of Bhumipol, who is regarded as a moral compass for the country.






Thailand jails US man Joe Gordon for royal insult (bbc)

Thailand has jailed a US citizen for two and a half years after he admitted posting web links to a banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Joe Gordon, a used car salesman from Colorado who was born in Thailand, admitted lese-majeste, or insulting the king, at an earlier hearing.

He was sentenced to five years in jail, but the judges halved the term because of his guilty plea.

The US consul general in Thailand said the sentence was "severe".

"He was given the sentence for his right of expression," Elizabeth Pratt told reporters.

"We continue to respect the Thai monarchy but we also support the right of expression which is internationally recognised as a human right."

Activists say the lese-majeste law has become increasingly politicised, and is used as a tool of repression rather than as a way of protecting the monarchy.

Royal pardon plea

Gordon, 55, reportedly translated parts of the widely available biography, The King Never Smiles by Paul Handley, several years ago and posted them on a blog while he was living in the US.

He was arrested in May when he visited Thailand for medical treatment.

He initially denied the charges, but said he changed his plea to guilty after being repeatedly refused bail.
After being sentenced, he told the Bangkok court: "I'm not Thai, I'm American. I was just born in Thailand. I hold an American passport. In Thailand there are many laws that don't allow you to express opinions, but we don't have that in America."

His lawyer said he would not appeal against the sentence, but would ask for a royal pardon.
Foreigners convicted of lese majeste are routinely pardoned and deported shortly after being sentenced.
Prosecutions under the law have increased dramatically in recent years, amid chronic political instability. And the authorities have passed a new law, the Computer Crimes Act, that increases their powers to tackle any perceived insults to the monarchy on the internet or through mobile phones. Last month a 61-year-old man was jailed for 20 years for sending four text messages that were deemed offensive to the Thai queen.

The man said he did not even know how to send a text message, and rights groups expressed serious concern about his conviction. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 84, isthe world's longest-reigning monarch and is revered as semi-divine by many Thais.

Anybody convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces long prison sentences.







Australian jailed to Three Years- 2,300 websites blocked (Thailand)

Melbourne author Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in a Thai jail for insulting the country's royal family in a novel. Karen Percy Reports for ABC

Another CNN Report:

An Australian man is jailed for insulting the Thai king in a novel he wrote. CNN's Dan Rivers reports.

Thai and Australian Analyst Charged with Insulting King

Giles Ungpakorn is a liberal commentator and academic who works at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. Police filed formal charges against him onJanuary 20th. His crime? For insulting the king in a 2007 book criticising the previous year's military coup.



A Rare Inside Look into Notorious Thai Jail



Life in a Thai Jail – Thailand (Aired August 1st, 1999)

Australian TV gains unprecedented access into two of Thailand's most notorious prisons.

 Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures








Lese-Majesty Law Explained from a Thai Perspective:

Thailand’s lese majeste & computer crime act :

Thai activists protest against the ongoing detention of U.S. citizen Joe Gordon






Lese - Majesty laws Under the Pahlavi Dynasty:

Shah of Iran in 1973 explains that Insulting the King or Burning the Flag are not allowed (Go to 3mn 18)

Khosro Golesorkhi’s Trial:

Khosro Golesorkhi's televised trial where he was rightly accused of an attempt to kidnap the Royal Family. Unike his culprits Golesorkhi Refused to repent and was ultimately executed. Legend has it that the Shah hesitated to the very last minute to sign the death sentence hoping that the man would finally repent like his other culprits released. But Golesorki refused …

Shahrnush Parsipur: "I was Never Physically Tortured by the SAVAK":

Poetess Shahrnush Parsipur ( author or Women without Men) She speaks about difference of treatment between SAVAK and SAVAMA, the IRI's secret Police:

Poetess Shahrnush Parsipur (author of best selling novel “Women Without Men”) in an interview with Luna Shad admits that she was never tortured by SAVAK the Shah’s secret Police despite being detained for 54 days following her resignation from University in protest against Golesorkhi’s execution.




Iran,UK, and in other Monarchies in the World

(Note Ironically In Europe it was initially a direct Product
of the Roman Republic)



Lese-majesty (French: lèse majesté ; Law French, from the Latin laesa maiestas,"injured majesty"; in English, also lese majesty or leze majesty) is the crime of violating majesty, an offenceagainst the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.

(See Current lese-majesty laws Per Country & Per Continent)

This behavior was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome.


European Monarchies inherited the Lese-Majesty laws directly from the laws of the Roman Republic (Scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus)

In the Dominate, or Late Empire period the Emperors scrapped the Republican trappings of their predecessors and began to identify the state with their person. Though legally the princeps civitatis (his official title, roughly 'first citizen') could never become a sovereign, as the republic was never officially abolished,emperors were deified as divus, first posthumously but by the Dominate period while reigning. Deified Emperorsthus enjoyed the legal protection provided for the divinities of the state cult ;by the time it was exchanged for Christianity, the monarchical tradition in all but name was well established.

Narrower conceptions of offences against Majesty as offences against the crown predominated in the European kingdoms that emerged in the early medieval period. In feudal Europe, various real crimes were classified as lese-majesty even though not intentionally directed against the crown, such as counterfeiting because coins bear the monarch's effigy and / or coat of arms.

However, since the disappearance of absolute monarchy, this is viewed as less of a crime, although similar, more malicious acts could be considered treason.By analogy, as modern times saw republics emerging as great powers, a similar crime may be constituted, though not under this name, by any offence against the highest representatives of any state. (More Here)

The British Treason Acts till prevails but has evolved in the UK over the years: 1695, 1842, 1948):

Man Get’s 5 years Jail sentence for shooting at Queen Elizabeth during the 1981 - Trooping the Colour

Prince Charles Attack 1994:

A short clip from News at Ten on 27/01/1994, the day after David Kang attacked Charles, Prince of Wales during an Australia Day speech

Charles and Camilia Attack in London in 2010 (Associated Press)

Protesters attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife as a hike in tuition fees triggered Britain's worst political violence in years. An AP photographer captured the royal couple's shock while a local man recorded the chaos on his mobile phone.






(Also see Related Blog: Crown Prince Reza Slams 'Shahollahis')

Shapour Bakhtiar’s Lessons in Democracy (1987):

The Late Shapour Bakhtiar speaks to Iranian journalist Limonadi about his faith in Democratic ideals and the needto rally around a minimum number of principles to achieve it. He also hits backat some Tehrangeles LA TV's mediocrities, as well as their simplistic and undemocratic approach.

Parisa Saed interview of Prince Reza Pahlavi on how to boost Human Rights activism in the West regarding Iran, May 1993:

PERSIAN MAGNA CARTA: UK Foreign Office Spokesman on Cyrus The Great's Charter:

Barry Marston speaks about the importance of Cyrus the Great's Human Rights Charter. Martson is spokesman for the British Foreign Office, in London with speciality in Middle Eastern issues.







The Constitutionalist Peasants - Monty Python’s The Holy Grail:

Always Look at the Bright Side of Life ( Monty Python’s Life of Brian):

Related pictory:

NOT THE FIRST TIME:Reza Shah breaks off diplomatic ties with France (1938)

Related Blogs on ‘Asian Monarchies’:

KINGDOM OF HAPPINESS : Bhutan King Marries Commoner Bride in Elaborate Ceremony

MODERNITY & TRADITION: Shah of Iran meets Japan's Hirohito (1958)

Japan’s Emperor Akihito Speaks To Nation In Rare TV Speech

ROYALTY ON SCREEN : Akira Kurusawa’s 1980 Palme D’Or Film "Kagemusha"

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" (1987)

Other Related Blogs:

Crown Prince Reza Slams 'Shahollahis'

PERSIAN MAGNA CARTA: UK Foreign Office Spokesman on Cyrus The Great's Charter

Morocco vote to curb king's powers, abolishing death penalty

British Monarchy Removes Gender Rules Regarding Royal Succession

How Truly Democratic And Stable Is The British Monarchy?

ROYAL FORUM:Prince Charles and Camilla's Car has been attacked by protesters

WOMEN KNOW YOUR LIMITS: The Shah's Post Mortem Apologies to Barbara Walters and Oriana Fallaci

ROYAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Crown Prince Reza on Torture During His Father's Rule


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by hirre on

I was in a cinema in Thailand early this year, before the movie starts you get to see a 5 min video of the king's life. At the same time as you see the clip all people in the cinema must stand up to show respect. You don't want to be the guy that sits down :)