Home News Thai anti-government protest leader released from prison

Thai anti-government protest leader released from prison

Nearly 160 activists including 13 juveniles have been hit with criminal charges under Thailand's royal defamation laws

A prominent Thai human rights lawyer and anti-government protest leader has been freed after more than 200 days in custody, with a Bangkok court granting bail Monday.

Youth-led rallies in 2020 demanding Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s resignation and reforms to Thailand’s monarchy drew tens of thousands of people at their peak.

But the movement lost steam last year as authorities detained several leaders and coronavirus infections surged.

Nearly 160 activists including 13 juveniles have been hit with criminal charges under Thailand’s royal defamation laws, which carry a jail sentence of up to 15 years per charge.

Rights lawyer Anon Numpa, 37, who is facing 14 lese majeste charges, was freed on Monday night after a Bangkok court granted bail.

A crowd of well-wishers were on hand to greet him as he walked out of Bangkok Remand Prison wearing a white shirt, black slacks and his trademark spectacles.

“As long as the country is not democratic, prisons will be home for activists,” he told reporters outside the jail.

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He said he would respect the court’s bail conditions but did not rule out delivering speeches at future rallies.

Supporters chanted his name and carried signs that said: “Release our friends.”

While posing for photos with democracy activists, he flashed a three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” movies that has been adopted as a gesture of defiance by the Thai protest movement.

Last week fellow protest leader and university student Parit Chiwarak, better known by his nickname “Penguin” — who is facing 23 lese majeste charges — was also freed on bail.

He had been in detention for almost 200 days.

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