December 8th, 2011
12:56 AM ET

American gets 2.5 years for insulting Thai monarchy

A Thai criminal court has sentenced a Thai-born American to two and a half years in prison for insulting the monarchy.

The charge of writing and posting articles insulting the monarchy can yield a sentence as high as 20 years in prison in the Buddhist country, where the king is highly revered.

But Joe W. Gordon, whose Thai name is Lerpong Wichaicommart, cooperated during the investigation and pleaded guilty, resulting in the lenient sentence, his lawyer said.

The lawyer, Anon Rumpa, said he plans to file for a royal pardon.

King Bhumibol Adulydej has pardoned foreigners in similar cases in the past.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Gordon said he was "an American, not a Thai citizen."

An "American has rights and freedom to comment. In Thailand, there is limitation in expressing opinion," he said.

Gordon, 54, returned to Thailand last year after 30 years in the United States. He was arrested in May for posting a link on his blog to an unauthorized biography of the king, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.

He had been detained without bail since then.

Thailand's lese majeste laws are among the toughest in the world, stipulating punishment for anyone defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family.

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Filed under: Thailand • U.S. • World
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    Well if its the law then people visiting Thailand or residing there should respect it.

    December 8, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Absolutely NOT banasy at 1:10 AM!
    @ CNN:
    Please remove that offensive post.

    December 8, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nachtwandler

    Bodhisattva's untouched and unharmed by wind and words. The King should disallow harm to those who thus leave him unharmed. It is the only way.

    December 8, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. a thai civilian

    This is MADNESS!! (Madness? THIS IS (THAI) MONARCHHH!)

    This is just one-tenth of the sentence applying to Thai citizen.

    – A 62-years old man got judged within 18 minutes in a court for a sentence of 20 years. 20 YEARS! for texting SMS message said to be "offensive" to the monarch. (True or not, we still have no answer)

    – But least year, a daughter of a rich and royal-related family hit a van on a tollway, resulted in 9 deaths. That case is still cold until now even there are a lot of evidence and witnesses.

    If this is not madness, I don't know what is.

    Thailand is entering its dark age.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
    • chrawin

      Are you really Thai? I don't think so! Why don't you include all details about the cases??? Two cases that you mentioned...the first one is from 4 text messages... 5 years penalty each. The second case was different...Yes...it was the royal-related family but you know what! It's like you have the same great great grandfather something like that (just comparative example...) And the driver is still youth (she was 16-17 I can't remember the exact number)... I believe the case has not closed yet. It is NOT anything related to monarchy AT ALL!

      I know you are anti-monarchy...and I am really sorry for your family what you are... You have no idea what the King has done for Thai people.

      "When in Rome, do as Romans do"! Man!

      December 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    Entering?

    December 8, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mmmmm

    Monarchy Marlarkey...

    December 8, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Thailand used to be Siam.
    Read "Anna And The King Of Siam" for and example of how they do things there.
    I realize that this was an account from 150 years ago, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    December 8, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    I agree, saywhat.
    "When in Rome..."

    December 8, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. eat the chicken

    yeah

    December 8, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. rooney

    I guess if he's willing to go to prison so he can say whatever he wants about the monarchy then more power to him. It sounds as if he knew what would happen and he did it more to make a statement.

    December 8, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. shaun

    To anyone that's upset, complaining, or outraged over this, I have one question.

    Are you upset, complaining, or outraged about all the foreigners America detains for years without charges, a trial, and Obama's new law that will hold them indefinitely even if they are acquitted?

    December 8, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tav

    He deserved to go to jail for his big and bad mouth. 99.99% of Thais love and loyal to this King. This stupid guy is safer to be in jail than on the street of Thailand. He was born in Thailand so he is still a Thai citizen. If you're in Thailand you should respect the Thai law.

    December 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JP

    For those who knows nothing.Our King is not a dictator.The real dictator or dictator wanna be is Taksin Shinawatra.

    December 15, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |